Obscenity in Colorado
CRS 18-7-102

According to Colorado statutes, committing an act that is legally deemed as “obscene” is a criminal offense. “Obscenity” is a broad legal term that refers to actions committed by an individual that is considered lewd or indecent to the average person. Oftentimes, charges of obscenity pertain to pornography, however, Colorado's wide-spanning law extends to other forms of erotic content.

Obscenity crimes can be a felony or a misdemeanor depending on the nature and circumstances of an individual case. Obscenity charges carry penalties that range from a fine to up to 18 months in a county jail. In this article, our Colorado criminal defense lawyers will address the following topics:

Obscenity
Colorado statutes provide a legal definition of the term “obscene.” It is defined as a material or performance that the average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find that taken as a whole appeals to the prurient interest in sex.

1. What is obscenity?

Colorado statutes provide a legal definition of the term “obscene.” It is defined as a material or performance that the average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find that taken as a whole appeals to the prurient interest in sex.

A material or performance that depicts or describes patently offensive representation or descriptions of ultimate sex acts, normal or perverted, actual or simulated, including sexual intercourse, sodomy, and sexual bestiality is considered obscene.

Also, depictions or descriptions of masturbation, excretory functions, sadism, masochism, lewd exhibition of the genitals, the male of female genitals in a state of sexual stimulation or arousal, or covered male genitals in a discernibly turgid state. 1

Therefore, if the average person dictates that a material or performance is inappropriate and indecent, it is considered obscene. Many people are not aware that any form of expression that involves sex - whether it be a book, photograph, play, painting - could be regarded as offensive and lead to an obscenity charge in Colorado.

In order to be convicted for obscenity, a prosecutor must prove that an alleged perpetrator partook in one of the following activities:

  • The wholesale promotion or possession of obscene material with the intent to promote said material
  • The production, presentation or management of an obscene performance or the participation in a portion of an obscene performance
  • The wholesale promotion of obscenity to a minor if, knowing its content and character, such person wholesale promotes to a minor or possesses with the intent to wholesale promote obscene materials to a minor
  • The production, presentation or management of an obscene performance involving a minor or participation in a portion of an obscene performance 2

Any person who possesses six or more identical obscene materials is presumed to possess them with intent to promote the same.3

1.1 What is the promotion of obscenity to a minor?

Promotion of obscenity to a minor is a more serious criminal offense. Many allegations of obscenity are related to pornography. In current times, the purchase and viewing of porn is not uncommon. However, promoting obscene material to anyone under the age of 18 is a crime.

2. What are the penalties for promoting obscenity in Colorado?

Obscenity charges that do not involve a minor are considered a class 1 misdemeanor. This means that if a person is convicted for this offense, he or she is facing penalties of a fine of up to $5,000 and up to 18 months spent in jail. 4

An obscenity charge that involves a minor is a class 6 felony. This offense carries charges of a fine of up to $100,000 and up to 18 months spent in a county jail. 5

3. Do I have to register as a sex offender for obscenity?

A conviction for promotion of obscenity to a minor requires registration on the Colorado Bureau of Investigation's sex offender registry. 6

After a sex offense conviction, the offender has to register with local law enforcement. Sex offenders have to provide by their name, date of birth, address, place of employment, fingerprints, a photograph, email addresses, and instant messaging or chat room identities. The sex offender will also have to re-register annually, every year within 5 days of their birthday. Sex offenders also have to register any time they change address or begin working at an institution of higher education. Failure to register as a sex offender for a felony sex crime is a class 6 felony.7

4. Related Offenses

There are several offenses that are commonly charged alongside obscenity charges. The sexual exploitation of a child is one of these offenses.

4.1 Sexual Exploitation of a Child C. R. S. 18-6-403

Invading a child's right of privacy by permitting a child to engage in explicit sexual conduct is a crime in Colorado. Sexual exploitation of a child is a class 3 felony. This offense carries penalties of a prison sentence of up to 4 years and a fine that costs up to $750,000.

Call us for help…

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If you have been arrested and charged with obscenity, please contact us at the Colorado Legal Defense Group. Our attorneys have many years of experience working with clients who have acquired both misdemeanor and felony charges of this offense. We take pride in the fact that we are among the best legal defense professionals to call. Contact us today via telephone or at our Denver law office for a free consultation.


Legal References

  1. C. R. S. 18-7-101(2)
  2. C. R. S. 18-7-102(1)
  3. C. R. S. 18-7-102(4)
  4. C. R. S. 18-7-102(1)(b)
  5. C. R. S. 18-7-102(2)(b)
  6. C.R.S. 16-22-102(9)(w)
  7. C.R.S. 18-3-412.5

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