For many people, pulling pranks like streaking or going skinny dipping is normalized by television and movies – where the police are rarely involved. But in reality, exposing yourself in a public place is against the law and could be considered indecent exposure in Colorado.
How does Colorado define indecent exposure, and how much legal trouble can you really get into for it? Read on to find out.
Indecent Exposure Defined
Under the law in Colorado, when someone knowingly exposes their genitals to another person in circumstances that cause that person alarm or offense, that’s considered indecent exposure. This also applies to public masturbation when done in view of someone else, and it is likely to cause that person alarm or insult.
Part of this crime as it is defined under Colorado law involves intent. The person accused of indecent exposure must have meant to do so in the view of others.
If someone exposes themselves somewhere they didn’t think they’d be seen, like deep in the woods to go swimming in a pond, then that may not be indecent exposure. They didn’t knowingly show their genitals to another person.
Also, exposing your genitals in a place where it isn’t likely to cause issues with those around you, such as a nude beach, isn’t usually considered indecent exposure.
The Penalties for Indecent Exposure
The penalties that are handed down by the court for indecent exposure depend on a person’s criminal background. In many cases, indecent exposure will result in a charge of a Class 1 misdemeanor, which can result in a jail sentence of up to 18 months and fines for as much as $5,000. However, if you have been convicted of indecent exposure twice before, then it can be raised to a Class 6 felony.
This may require additional penalties, such as counseling and treatment, as well as probation. However, perhaps the most damaging thing that can come from a conviction for indecent exposure is being required to register as a sex offender.
Registration as a Sex Offender
If you are convicted of indecent exposure, do you have to register as a sex offender in Colorado? Yes, you do.
After a conviction, a person will be required to register where they live with local law enforcement. They must provide their name, address, employment, photographs, online identities, email addresses, and fingerprints to the police, and that information will go on the registry.
This registry is often available to the public. In cases of misdemeanor indecent exposure, your information may not be public – but in cases of felony indecent exposure, it will.
Sex offenders must re-register annually around their birthday, or they could face an additional charge of failing to register. This is a standalone Class 1 misdemeanor that can send you to jail.
Defenses to Indecent Exposure
If you are being accused of indecent exposure, don’t just brush it off. It has serious legal consequences if you are found guilty. That’s why you need an experienced attorney on your side to help make a case for your innocence.
While every case is different, it’s important to do your best to produce a good defense. Some of the most common defenses used in indecent exposure cases include:
- You didn’t intentionally expose yourself
- You did not expose your genitals
- You were not involved in the case – it’s mistaken identity
- You did exposure your genitals, but no one was around to be alarmed or affronted by it
- You are being falsely accused of the crime
About the Author:
Kimberly Diego is a criminal defense attorney in Denver practicing at The Law Office of Kimberly Diego. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and her law degree at the University of Colorado. She was named one of Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars of 2012 & 2019” and a “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012-2020 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state. Additionally, Expertise names her to its lists of the 25 Best Denver DUI Lawyers and 21 Best Denver Criminal Defense Lawyers, both in 2020. Ms. Diego has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.