Tanning Nude: Is It Indecent Exposure in CO?

It’s summer, which means many people are chasing that sun-kissed look. If you’re one of them and decide it’s time for a little nude sunbathing in your backyard, is it a crime?

You may hit the tanning bed or use some bronzer to get that glow, but the old-fashioned way is free. Doing it nude is one way to ensure you don’t have to worry about tan lines. However, you may have to worry about something else: Whether or not it’s illegal in Colorado to tan in the nude, no matter where you are.

Read on to learn about the two potential crimes that sunbathing in the nude could incur.

Indecent Exposure in Colorado

In Colorado, you can be charged with indecent exposure if you expose your genitals to someone else, but you must do so knowingly to be charged. The situation must also cause alarm or affront to another person with the intent to satisfy or arouse a person’s sexual desire. Genitals, or intimate body parts, include the breasts, butt, pubic area, and anus.

In most cases, a person is charged with indecent exposure in situations where an act of masturbation occurs, even if it’s only pretending since that can alarm another person. It’s vital to understand that to meet the legal threshold of indecent exposure, the intent must be proven. Going to a secluded spot and sunbathing nude, only to have someone else happen upon you, is not knowingly exposing your genitals to anyone. That’s why you need an attorney on your side if you’re charged with the crime of nude sunbathing.

Additionally, being nude someplace where it’s not going to cause an affront to anyone, such as a designated nude beach, is probably not indecent exposure under the law.

Penalties for Indecent Exposure

If you are found guilty of indecent exposure in Colorado, you face penalties for a Class 1 misdemeanor in most cases, which can send you to jail for up to one year and make you responsible for fines of as much as $1,000. However, anyone with two previous indecent exposure convictions can be charged with a Class 6 felony. This can lead to penalties such as required treatment, counseling, and probation.

One of the most serious consequences of a conviction for this crime is being required to register as a sex offender. Yet another reason to work hard to avoid a conviction.

Public Indecency

Another possible crime from tanning in the nude is public indecency.

This crime is committed when someone knowingly exposes their genitals in public. It also covers those who choose to have sex in public. It differs from indecent exposure in that there’s no element of satisfying a sexual desire by exposure of the genitals.

In Colorado, this is considered a petty offense and can result in up to 10 days behind bars and fines of as much as $300.

In most cases, those who are tanning in the nude don’t mean to offend anyone or expose themselves in a lewd way. If you face even the petty offense of public indecency after sunbathing in the nude, then you need an experienced attorney to represent you. After all, you have rights. You don’t want to have your lack of knowledge of the law to allow prosecutors to take advantage of you – you need someone to fight for you.


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. Countless legal organizations have recognized Mr. Martinez for his exemplary defense work, including Avvo, Best DWI Attorneys, Expertise, Lawyers of Distinction, The National Trial Lawyers, and others. He was also named one of the 10 Best in Client Satisfaction in Colorado by the American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys and is Lead Counsel rated.