Colorado is known for its naturally beautiful landscapes, from the Rocky Mountains to its sand dunes and green natural forests. However, if you think that your own "natural landscape" is just as beautiful and should be as openly displayed, you may find yourself at odds with the law.
Colorado law prohibits public nudity and indecently exposing oneself in a sexual manner to alarm or offend others. These crimes are called public indecency and indecent exposure and can result in jail time and even registration in the state's sex offender registry.
Overview of Colorado Indecent Exposure Laws
The indecent exposure laws in Colorado are further explained in the table below:
Colorado Revised Statutes Section 18-7-301 (public indecency)
Colorado Revised Statutes Section 18-7-302 (indecent exposure)
|What Is Prohibited?
Public Indecency: When a person, in a public place in view of others, does any of the following:
- Has sex
- Exposes one's intimate parts except for genitals (i.e. the anus, perineum, pubes, or breasts) in a lewd manner, if done to arouse a sexual desire in anyone
- Fondles or caresses another's body in a lewd manner
- Knowingly exposes one's genitals to another person in a way likely to alarm or offend the person
Indecent Exposure: When a person does any of the following:
- Knowingly exposes one's genitals in view of another in a way likely to cause alarm or offend with the intent to arouse or to satisfy the sexual desires of anyone
- Knowingly masturbates (real or simulated touching or rubbing one's genitals or pubic area for sexual gratification whether covered or exposed) in view of others in a manner likely to alarm or offend them
Public Indecency: This is generally a Class 1 Petty Offense punishable by up to 6 months imprisonment and up to $500 in fines. This becomes a Class 1 Misdemeanor if committed with a prior knowing genital exposure-related conviction punishable by up 18 months imprisonment and up to $5,000 in fines.
Indecent Exposure: This is a Class 1 Misdemeanor punishable by up 18 months imprisonment and up to $5,000 in fines. However, with two prior convictions it's upgraded to a Class 6 Felony punishable by up to 18 months imprisonment with a mandatory one year parole and up to $100,000 in fines.
Sex Offender Registry: If convicted of public indecency (sometimes) and indecent exposure, you will be required to register as a sex offender. Persons convicted of misdemeanor sex offenses aren't posted on the publicly visible registry, but registration can seriously affect where you can work or live.
Technically, exposing one's breasts to feed a baby could be a violation of public indecency. However, Colorado has a state law that specifically permits moms to breastfeed in any private or public place (one that she has a right to be at – so no trespassing).
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Additional Resources For Colorado Indecent Exposure Laws
Still Exposed? Get Help With Your Case From an Attorney
Everyone's had moments they'd like to forget, whether it be streaking to the quad in college or mistaking a public beach as being clothes optional. Whatever the case, if you're facing charges under Colorado indecent exposure laws, it's important to remember that the crux of your case could come down to evidence of your intent and your specific location at the time of the incident. An experienced criminal defense attorney knows the best way to challenge the evidence against you and to make your case to the jury.