September 28, 2023
It’s easy to take a sense of privacy for granted. In general, it’s expected that certain matters remain private, whether you’re in your own home, a doctor’s office, or simply a private space.
However, some things you’d prefer to remain private are actively sought after by other people, which can quickly become a criminal offense – especially when it concerns your body.
Invasions of privacy under these circumstances are considered “morality crimes,” and Colorado takes them very seriously.
What Does Colorado Consider a “Morality Crime”?
A morality crime is generally something considered offensive to the public. This includes sex crimes. Criminal invasion of privacy is one common kind of morality crime. Others include public indecency, obscenity, and prostitution.
These types of crimes are vaguer than those that involve physically harming someone. Since the damage is generally mental distress or harm to someone’s reputation, it’s harder to quantify the damage.
That leads to invasion of privacy having several ranks of penalties that can be applied upon conviction.
Invasion of Privacy as a Crime in CO
A breach of privacy is always distressing to the victim. However, the law has strict definitions of what makes it a crime. There are several levels at which invasion of privacy can be penalized. How severe the sentence depends on the circumstances of the crime.
In order for an invasion of privacy to become a criminal matter in the first place, it must meet several standards.
The crime of invasion of privacy is observing or recording someone else’s “intimate parts” without consent, somewhere where the person reasonably expected they were in private. Consent is a key factor here. If you consent to have someone else view your intimate parts, then it’s not a crime.
The other key part is that you must have a “reasonable expectation” of privacy. You generally have a reasonable expectation of privacy in bathrooms, store changing rooms, and your own home.
You might not have a reasonable expectation of privacy while camping, at the beach, or in other public areas.
Invasion of Privacy: Colorado Misdemeanor or Felony?
At its least severe, invasion of privacy is a class 2 misdemeanor in Colorado. At this level, the invasion of privacy was simply observing or recording, without further intent. For a class 2 misdemeanor charge, penalties might include up to a year in jail and fines of $1000.
An offender’s intent is just as important to an invasion of privacy as consent. If it’s found that the invasion of privacy was undertaken for the purpose of sexual gratification, it becomes a class 1 misdemeanor. That can lead to 18 months in jail, and fines of up to $5000.
Finally, if an invasion of privacy is a second or further offense, or if the victim was under 15, it becomes a class 6 felony of extraordinary risk. This is serious. This conviction can lead to two years in jail, $100,000 in fines, a mandatory year of parole, the loss of your voting privileges, and permanent status as a sex offender.
Invasion of privacy is no joke. A conviction for invasion of privacy can change someone’s entire life. Our society relies on privacy as a right. Therefore, charges of violating intimate privacy are taken seriously by Colorado courts. You should take them seriously, too.
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.