A Guide to Colorado’s “Morality Crimes”

We often talk about different types of crimes in two categories: violent and non-violent. Violent crimes cause bodily harm to others (think assault or murder), and non-violent crimes typically involve white-collar crimes or indiscretions concerning money or property (theft, embezzlement, and so on).

While these are two types of common crimes, they do not cover all of the crimes that are defined under the laws of Colorado. In this post, we will describe a group of crimes that aren’t commonly addressed: morality crimes.

What are Morality Crimes?      

Denver Criminal Defense Attorney

Morality crimes bring up the question of morals, and are less cut-and-dry than many crimes involving violence or theft. Many of them involve sex acts or actions that can be offensive to the public. And while these actions may be committed with the consent of both parties, they are still considered criminal offenses and as such come with the potential of jail time or heavy fines if you are charged.

ProstitutionMost morality crimes have to do with prostitution: buying and selling sex (broadly defined in Colorado to include vaginal, anal, and oral sex, as well as masturbation).

A simple prostitution charge in Colorado is considered a class 3 misdemeanor, which has penalties including six months in jail and fines between $50 and $750. This only applies to prostitutes and those who are buying sex. Pimping (handling or making a living off of prostitution) carries harsher penalties.

There are also specific consequences for prostitutes or people who buy sex and knowingly have HIV. Prostitution or patronizing a prostitute becomes a felony offense if either party has HIV. These exceptions only apply, however, if the party has been tested for HIV and is aware of their status.

There are also harsher consequences for anyone who is involved in the prostitution of a minor. For these crimes, you could face between 4-24 years in prison and fines of between $3,000 and $1,000,000.

Indecent ExposureYou don’t have to necessarily commit a sex act to be charged with a morality crime. An instance of public nudity can also get you arrested.

In Colorado, public indecency charges cover any act of publicly attempting to arouse or expose another person’s intimate areas. Indecent exposure charges cover exposing your own intimate areas (i.e. genitals, breasts) to others in an attempt to alarm or offend.

Public indecency is a class 1 petty offense, but a second conviction could be bumped up to a class 1 misdemeanor. This is the same charge you may receive for an indecent exposure offense: you may face between 6-18 months in jail and fines of between $500 and $5,000.

Other Morality Crimes – Crimes of obscenity or criminal invasion of privacy also fall under the category of morality crimes.

Where Colorado’s Sex Offender Registry Fits In

Being convicted of any of the above crimes (except for obscenity and criminal invasion of privacy) may also have another lifelong consequence: being required to register as a sex offender.
If you are only convicted of a misdemeanor offense, your name and criminal history will not be subject to the public registry that can be searched by employers or neighbors. However, if you are charged with a felony, your record and registry may be public.

Crimes like indecent exposure may not seem like a big deal. Often, they are reported and treated in a humorous manner. But the sex offender registry and the consequences of these offenses are serious.

Work with a lawyer who has experience defending and winning different types of morality and sex crimes, reach out to us today.

About the Author:

Denver-based criminal defense and DUI attorney Jacob E. Martinez is a knowledgeable and experienced litigator with a record of success providing innovative solutions to clients facing criminal charges of any severity. Mr. Martinez has been designated a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers and has been awarded both the Avvo Client’s Choice Award and Avvo Top Attorney designation, evidencing his reputation for his exemplary criminal and DUI defense work and high moral standards.