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Colorado law on display of flags

Law on display of flags in Colorado pertains to Mexican flags in Colorado public schools.

18-11-205. Unlawful to display flag - exceptions

Statute text

(1) Any person who displays any flag other than the flag of the United States of America or the state of Colorado or any of its subdivisions, agencies, or institutions upon any state, county, municipal, or other public building or adjacent grounds within this state commits a class 1 petty offense.

(2) Any person who displays any flag other than the flag of the United States of America or the state of Colorado or any of its subdivisions, agencies, or institutions in any place where it is likely to be viewed by the public or a substantial portion thereof, knowing that under the circumstances then existing such display is likely to cause a breach of the peace, commits a class 1 petty offense.

(3) "Flag", as used in this section, means any flag, ensign, banner, standard, colors, or replica or representation thereof which is an official or commonly recognized symbol of a particular nation, state, movement, cause, or organization.

(4) (a) This section does not apply to:

(I) The display of the flag of the United Nations or the flag of a foreign nation displayed to identify persons officially representing such foreign nation or the property or premises of the person or nation;

(II) The display of an appropriate flag upon ceremonial or commemorative occasions proclaimed by the president of the United States, the governor of the state of Colorado, the board of county commissioners of any county, or the mayor or other chief executive officer of a city or town within this state;

(III) The display of the flag of any adjacent state with the flag of the state of Colorado at the ports of entry weigh stations, in recognition of the joint state port operation; or

(IV) The display of any flag or representation thereof described in subsection (1) of this section that is part of a temporary display of any instructional or historical materials not permanently affixed or attached to any part of the buildings or grounds described in subsection (1) of this section.

(b) This subsection (4) shall be an affirmative defense.

References

Source: L. 71: R&RE, p. 480, § 1. C.R.S. 1963: § 40-11-205. L. 73: p. 540, § 11. L. 93: (4) amended, p. 39, § 3, effective July 1. L. 2002: (4) amended, p. 317, § 2, effective August 7.

Cross references: For affirmative defenses generally, see §§ 18-1-407, 18-1-710, and 18-1-805; for requirement that the flag be displayed in certain state institutions, see § 27-2-108.

C.J.S. See 36A C.J.S., Flags, § 2.

Law reviews. For article, "Red Flags and the Flag", see 13 Rocky Mt. L. Rev. 47 (1940).

18-11-204. Mutilation - contempt of flag - penalty

Statute text

(1) It is unlawful for any person to mutilate, deface, defile, trample upon, burn, cut, or tear any flag in public:

(a) With intent to cast contempt or ridicule upon the flag; or

(b) With intent to outrage the sensibilities of persons liable to observe or discover the action or its results; or

(c) With intent to cause a breach of the peace or incitement to riot; or

(d) Under such circumstances that it may cause a breach of the peace or incitement to riot.

(2) "Flag", as used in this section, means any flag, ensign, banner, standard, colors, or replica or representation thereof which is an official or commonly recognized symbol of the United States of America or the state of Colorado.

(3) Any person violating the provisions of this section commits a class 3 misdemeanor.

References

Source: L. 71: R&RE, p. 480, § 1. C.R.S. 1963: § 40-11-204.

C.J.S. See 36A C.J.S., Flags, §§ 1, 2.

Law reviews. For note, "Comment: Constitutional Law -- Symbolic Speech -- Colorado Flag Desecration Statute", see 48 Den. L. J. 451 (1971). For article, "The Flag-Burning Episode: An Essay on the Constitution", see 61 U. Colo. L. Rev. 39 (1990).

Subsection (1)(a) unconstitutional. Provision of this section making it unlawful to mutilate, deface, and defile a flag of the United States with intent to cast contempt thereupon is unconstitutional upon its face because the interests it seeks to promote are contrary to the fundamental values protected by the first amendment. People v. Vaughan, 183 Colo. 40, 514 P.2d 1318 (1973).

Statute was not designed to proscribe mutilating or misusing flag per se. People v. Vaughan, 183 Colo. 40, 514 P.2d 1318 (1973).

Specific intent required. A violation of this section occurs only when the surrounding circumstances manifest the exercise of the intellect in such a manner that inferences may be drawn therefrom that the acts or conduct were done with the specific intent of casting contempt on the flag. There is no violation of this section where the proscribed acts are the result of thoughtlessness, inadvertence, accident, or the like. People v. Vaughan, 183 Colo. 40, 514 P.2d 1318 (1973).

Symbolic speech protected. Conduct, which consisted of wearing a pair of blue jeans on the seat of which a portion of the American flag had been sewn, manifested an expressive intent and a communicative content such as to be considered "symbolic speech" and consequently was protected "speech" under the first amendment. People v. Vaughan, 183 Colo. 40, 514 P.2d 1318 (1973).