Revisions in exposure, indecency laws are signed

Gov. Bill Ritter has signed a bill into law that is intended to correct problems with the state’s sexual offender statutes.

House Bill 1334 moves masturbation from the state’s less severe public indecency laws to the more severe indecent exposure statutes. At the same time, it shifts the act of exposing one’s genitals with the purpose of causing affront or alarm, but without sexual intent, from public exposure to public indecency laws.

Rep. Steve King, R-Grand Junction who introduced the measure, said the previous law made little sense.

Before the new law, which takes effect on Aug. 11, someone could masturbate in public and be charged only with a petty offense, but someone could urinate in public and end up with a misdemeanor and a lifetime on the state’s sexual offender registry.

“This is a positive step to strengthen the sex offender’s registry, allowing law enforcement to focus their time and resources on monitoring and proactive enforcement for those true sexual predators who stalk our children,” he said.

The maximum penalty for a class 1 petty offense for public indecency is up to a $500 fine and six months in jail. The maximum offense for a class 1 misdemeanor is a up to a $5,000 fine, 18 months in prison and a placement on the state’s sexual offender registry for life.

The governor also signed a bill Monday that would change the way courts consider congressional boundaries in redistricting cases if the Legislature fails, as it did in 2001, to approve new lines after a U.S. census.

Under current law, courts would be required to redistrict the state’s seven congressional districts using strict criteria that included, in this order: population balance; compliance with the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which deals with such issues as racial discrimination; keeping cities, towns and counties as intact as possible; tying communities of interest together; making districts as compact as possible; and minimizing altering prior boundaries as much as possible.

Under HB1408, the courts still would have to take those criteria into consideration, but under no specific order beyond the first two.

Ritter faces a Friday deadline to sign, veto or allow to become law without his signature bills that were approved during the 2010 legislative session that ended last month. To date, he’s signed 407 bills and vetoed five.


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