Public indecency occurs when a person performs a sexual act in a public place. This can include things like having sex in public, exposing body parts in public, touching someone in public in a lewd manner, or exposing your genitals in public to someone. Like many crimes, what is actually encompassed by public indecency is up for debate. One person may find a young couple in a heavy make-out session to be engaged in lewd fondling while another person may feel that as long as no private parts are visible then it’s not criminal behavior. Public indecency should also not be confused with indecent exposure, a more serious sex offense. The legal definition of public indecency, and its sentencing ranges, are discussed below.
(1) Any person who performs any of the following in a public place or where the conduct may reasonably be expected to be viewed by members of the public commits public indecency:
(a) An act of sexual intercourse; or
(c) A lewd act exposure of an intimate part as defined by section 18-3-401(2) of the body, not including the genitals, done with intent to arouse or to satisfy the sexual desire of any person; or
(d) A lewd fondling or caress of the body of another person; or
(e) A knowing exposure of the person’s genitals to the view of a person under circumstances in which such conduct is likely to cause affront or alarm to the other person.
(2)(a) Except as otherwise provided in paragraph (b) of this subsection (2), public indecency is a class 1 petty offense.
(b) Public indecency as described in paragraphed (e) of subsection (1) of this section is a class 1 misdemeanor if the violation is committed subsequent to a conviction of paragraph (e) of subsection (1) of this section or for a violation of a comparable offense in any other state or in the United States, or for a violation of a comparable municipal ordinance.
A class 1 petty offense, such as public indecency, can result in a fine of up to $500 or imprisonment of up to six months in the county jail.[ii] In the rare situation where this is charged as a class 1 misdemeanor the penalties include a $500-$5,000 fine and/or 6-18 months in the county jail. Probation is also an option in both cases.
Public indecency laws are designed to target people who have sex in public or people who, for example, go streaking at a football game. This is a relatively minor charge and it does not require sex offender registration. That being said, you do not want a public indecency conviction on your record. If you or someone you know has been charged with public indecency, have them contact one of the criminal defense attorneys at CGH today. Life happens. We can help.
[i] C.R.S. §18-7-301
[ii] C.R.S. § 18-1.3-503