Colorado Sex Crime Attorney Blog

16th Street Mall Exposure: Public Indecency

Posted by Kyle B. Sawyer | Jun 02, 2014 | 0 Comments

Read about an incident that occurred at a mall, which could have led to Public Indecency charges.
Summer is upon us. This means there are more people out enjoying the sunshine, and getting a head start on their summer fun checklist. This also means there is more opportunity to be charged with a crime. Earlier this year, we wrote a blog about how tanning in the nude could end with an Indecent Exposure charge in Denver, Adams, or Jefferson County. Another crime which is commonly charged as a result of nudity is Public Indecency – C.R.S  18-7-301. There are many instances where a person could face Public Indecency charges. For example, last summer I was walking along the 16th Street Mall in downtown Denver, when I came across a group of topless women who were holding signs and fighting for women's rights.  I have been a criminal defense attorney for 23 years – I know those women were walking a fine line. The definition is vague when it comes to crimes such as Public Indecency. Let's take a look at the statute to determine how a person could be accused of this offense:

Public Indecency: A Closer Look at the Law

If a person does any of the following in a public place where it can be reasonably expected that the public will see, they will face charges of Public Indecency:

  • Lewdly expose an intimate part of the body (this does not include a person's genitals), with the intent to satisfy or arouse any person's sexual desire
  • Engage in an act of sexual intercourse
  • Expose their genitals to another person knowingly, in a way which is likely to cause alarm
  • Lewdly fondle or caress another person

Is Going Topless a Crime? Is it Public Indecency?

There were police all over 16th Street Mall while the topless women walked with their banners. They were being watched closely, but they weren't arrested. Why is this? The women most likely weren't arrested because, even though an “intimate part” of the body was being exposed, their intent wasn't to arouse or satisfy anyone's sexual desire. Thus, they didn't meet the definition of Public Indecency. This is an extremely fine line, because the definitions in the Public Indecency statute are vague. People are often charged in Douglas, Arapahoe, and El Paso County, even though they don't meet the requirements. Let me explain what I mean.

[pullquote align=”center” textalign=”center” width=”50%”]Police were everywhere, but the topless women weren't arrested.[/pullquote]

Vague Definitions in Public Indecency Statute:

The definitions in the Public Indecency statute are vague. What exactly does “lewd” mean? When terms are vague, the definitions are up to police, individual courts and judges. Innocent people pay the price. I have represented many clients in the Denver metro area who are facing Public Indecency charges for peeing in public. This makes absolutely no sense. The purpose of someone urinating in an alley isn't to cause “affront or alarm,” yet they are charged with a crime.

Charged with Public Indecency? Here's Why You Need a Lawyer

If you have been charged with Public Indecency, you need to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. One reason you need to take these accusations seriously is because in most cases, a second conviction of Public Indecency is a sex offense. This means you will get the sex offender label and be required to register as a sex offender, and go through sex offender treatment overseen by the harsh Colorado Sex Offender Management Board. Don't brush off a Public Indecency charge. The sex offender label is extremely difficult to live with. Fight the charges against you by working with an attorney who has experience representing good people who have been charged with sex offenses.

Request a Free Consultation

If you or a loved one has been charged with Public Indecency, be smart, exercise your right to remain silent, and contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at the O'Malley Law Office for a free consultation at 303-830-0880, or submit the “Get Help Now” form.
Together, we can protect your future.

Image courtesy of Feelart /

About the Author

Kyle B. Sawyer

I have a passion for defending others in criminal cases. I am able to empathize with my clients and understand their emotions and fears. I have a unique perspective on the criminal justice system and I understand what it feels like to be wrongly accused of a crime.


There are no comments for this post. Be the first and Add your Comment below.

Leave a Comment