In recent news, I found a story which perfectly illustrates how a person's Constitutional rights can be at odds with possible criminal charges. People are trying to take legal action against a man who stands in his own house in the front door, stark naked. What are the laws in Denver, Arapahoe, or Broomfield County regarding appearing naked in public view? In Colorado, a person could be charged with Public Indecency for this behavior. Do these charges go against a person's Constitutional rights? Let's take a look:
What is Public Indecency in Colorado?
First, we need to look at the Public Indecency statute. In Adams, Jefferson, and Douglas County, a person will be charged with this crime if they:
Perform an act of sexual intercourse, lewdly expose an intimate part of their body (not including genitals) with the intent to arouse or satisfy any person's sexual desire, lewdly fondle or caress another person's body, or expose their genitals to the view of another person when it is likely to cause affront or alarm, in a public place or where the “conduct may reasonably be expected to be viewed by members of the public.”
In the situation of the man who stands completely naked in his own doorway, there are two parts of this statute we need to look at.1. First, the statute states a person will be charged if they knowingly expose their genitals to the “view of a person under circumstances in which such conduct is likely to cause affront or alarm to the other person.” Obviously, the man is naked (knowing exposure of the genitals), and it is causing alarm to his neighbors. 2. Second, the statute states a person will be charged if they expose themselves in a place where the “conduct may reasonably be expected to be viewed by members of the public.” This is where the lines are blurry. Is a person's doorway in their own private home a place where you can “reasonably be expected to be viewed by members of the public?”
Constitutional Rights and the Court: Vague Definitions are Dangerous
When it comes to determining whether or not a criminal charge goes against a person's Constitutional rights, the decision is often up to the District Attorney or judge in the case. And, in Boulder, El Paso, and Pitkin County and across Colorado, the police, prosecution, and judge are all extremely harsh when it comes to crimes of a sexual nature. If the man who liked to stand in his doorway in the nude lived in Colorado, it is likely he would be charged with Public Indecency – C.R.S. 18-7-301. If you or a loved one has been charged with a sexual offense and you feel your Constitutional rights have been violated, it's vital that you contact an expert criminal defense lawyer immediately to being working on your defense. It's difficult to stand alone in the courtroom – having an advocate fighting on your behalf is essential for getting the best outcome in your criminal case.Request a Free Consultation