Bill Creates New Indecent Exposure Offense
Colorado lawmakers are taking action to change a state law that currently makes public urination and streaking a sex offense requiring mandatory sex offender registration.
If signed into law, HB 10-1334 will separate the crime of public indecency from the crime of indecent exposure. Under current law, the more serious act of public masturbation is charged as an act of public indecency, a Class 1 petty offense, the same as urinating in public.
The new law would charge public masturbation as a Class 1 misdemeanor under the newly created indecent exposure statute, C.R.S. §18-7-302. The new statute would define "indecent exposure" as:
- Knowingly exposing genitalia to the view of any person under circumstances in which the conduct is likely to cause affront or alarm to the other person with the intent to arouse or to satisfy the sexual desire of any person
- Knowingly performing an act of masturbation in a manner which exposes the act to the view of any person under the circumstances in which such conduct is likely to cause affront or alarm to the other person
The proposed changes under HB 10-1334 also include expanding the already existing crime of public indecency (CRS §18-7-301) to include "knowingly exposing one's genitals in a way that is likely to cause affront or alarm to another person." First time convictions for public indecency still would be treated as a Class 1 petty offense while second and subsequent convictions would be treated as the more serious Class 1 misdemeanor.
Additionally, a person would not be required to register as a sex offender after his or her first conviction for an act of public indecency. Instead, indecent exposure would not be considered a sex offense or unlawful sexual behavior requiring mandatory sex offender registration under Colorado law unless the individual had been convicted of a second charge of indecent exposure within five years of the first conviction, or upon a third or greater conviction.
Proposed Law Widely Supported
HB 10-1334 has received great support from both political parties as well as both chambers of the Colorado General Assembly. Sen. Pat Steadman (D-Denver), the Senate sponsor of the bill, said that the proposed changes to the law are about fairness and separating the types of behavior that represent a lapse in good judgment from those that indicate a more serious sexual predator.
For example, under the current law, some of the types of crimes that were prosecuted as public indecency crimes, requiring mandatory sex offender registration included:
- Homeless persons urinating in public
- Individual who was caught changing his pants in a public parking lot after spilling coffee on them
- Individual who answered his hotel room door without properly covering himself up
State prosecutors and defense attorneys also agree that the law will bring more fairness to the state's criminal justice system. If passed, prosecutors will have a viable option to bring charges against those who exercise "lapses in judgment" and decide to urinate in public or go streaking as a prank. Individuals convicted of public indecency also will not have to worry about the devastating consequences of being labeled a convicted sex offender for committing an act that in no way indicated the propensity to become a dangerous sexual predator.
While HB 10-1334 represents a move in the right direction to help bring more fairness to the state's sex offender registration laws, Colorado still has very severe laws punishing sex offenses.
If you have been charged with an offense requiring registration as a sex offender, it is important to begin working with an experienced defense attorney as soon as possible. If convicted, you potentially may be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of your life, in addition to other penalties. Simply moving to another community or state will not make the registration requirement go away.
For more information on defending against a sex offense charge, contact a knowledgeable defense lawyer today.