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Indecent Exposure in Colorado—What’s at Stake

In Colorado, indecent exposure is a sex crime and normally a class 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to 18 months in jail. If a person has two prior convictions for indecent exposure, subsequent convictions are class 6 felonies punishable by prison. In all cases, conviction requires registration as a sex offender, a serious and life-changing consequence with serious ramifications for your personal life and career.

Indecent exposure is committed when:

1) With the intent to arouse or to satisfy the sexual desire of any person, a person knowingly exposes the person’s genitals to the view of any other person under circumstances in which such conduct is likely to cause affront or alarm to the other person, OR
2) A person knowingly performs an act of masturbation in a manner which exposes the act to the view of any person under circumstances in which such conduct is likely to cause affront or alarm to the other person. [here, the person’s genitals need not be exposed]

For exact language see Colorado Revised Statutes 18-7-302.

In some cases, a criminal defense lawyer can identify weaknesses in a prosecution’s case and obtain a dismissal or plea that does not require registration as a sex offender. In all circumstances, a criminal lawyer can defend your rights, evaluate your options, and either negotiate a favorable plea bargain or fight for you at trial.

Defense of Indecent Exposure Charges

Indecent exposure is charged in a wide variety of situations, and there are numerous legitimate defenses for a lawyer to help you with. Nude or partially nude sunbathing, public urination, changing clothes outside, streaking or other dares can all lead to charges of indecent exposure if the acts are misconstrued. But to convict you of indecent exposure, the prosecutor must prove that there was a sexual intent to whatever actions were observed.

A criminal lawyer will evaluate and investigate the case, typically with the goal of showing that the act was non-sexual, or that the witnesses were mistaken in what they saw. If the act is deemed non-sexual you may receive an acquittal at trial, a dismissal, or at least a better plea offer, perhaps to public indecency, which normally does not require registration as a sex offender.

It can also be tough for a prosecutor to prove what the witnesses really saw. People are easily scared or annoyed when they think they see a person’s genitals, and often won’t get too close, or even look in that direction again. When a prosecutor’s case depends on the fleeting observations of an eyewitness, a criminal trial lawyer can often show that those observations are unreliable. Lighting, distance, visual obstructions, biases, length of observations, and so much more can lead to eyewitness mistakes. A good cross-examination of a witness can also reveal inconsistencies and failures of memory, saving you from a mistaken or false accusation.

In some cases where the prosecutor’s evidence is very strong, a trial may not be a good option. But a criminal lawyer will still defend your rights, investigate the case, and look for opportunities to suppress evidence or get the case dismissed. A criminal lawyer can also put the incident in context, along with mitigation, in order to obtain a fair and favorable plea bargain for you.

Matthew Hand is an experienced criminal trial lawyer, who has handled misdemeanor and felony sex crimes, and has won indecent exposure trials.

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