The law in Colorado protects children under the age of 16 years old from emotional, physical, or sexual abuse, and it is something that law enforcement officials in our state take very seriously. As a result, if you are charged, you will be facing incredibly severe consequences, and you need to understand what you are up against.
Below, we’re going to cover how state laws define child abuse, as well as what charge and penalties you face.
What Child Abuse Means under Colorado Law
The statutes define child abuse as follows:
- Subjecting a child to sexual assault, exploitation, molestation, prostitution, cruel punishment, or emotional abuse
- Failing to provide a child with adequate clothing, food, shelter, supervision, or medical care
- Evidence that the child is bruised, bleeding, malnourished, burned, or has fractured bones not due to accidents
- Performing female circumcision in whole or in part on a female child
- Manufacturing or attempting to manufacture a controlled substance in the presence of a child, where a child resides, or in a vehicle that contains the child
There must be enough reasonable cause for a person to report child abuse, compared with reasonable conditions for a healthy child. That being said, certain professionals are required to report suspicions to Colorado officials.
Charges of Child Abuse in Colorado
Failure to report suspected child abuse or making a false report is a class 3 misdemeanor in Colorado.
If a child dies due to abuse that is knowing or reckless, the charge will be a class 2 felony in most situations.
If a child dies due to abuse stemming from criminal negligence, the charge will be a class 3 felony.
If a child experiences serious bodily injury due to reckless or knowing behavior, the charge will be a class 3 felony.
If a child experiences serious bodily injury due to criminal negligence, the charge will be a class 4 felony.
If a child experiences injury due to knowing or reckless behavior, the charge is a class 1 misdemeanor or a class 5 felony.
If a child experiences injury due to criminal negligence, the charge is a class 2 misdemeanor or a class 5 felony.
If child abuse occurs without death or injury due to knowing or reckless behavior, the charge is a class 2 misdemeanor or a class 5 felony.
If child abuse occurs without death or injury due to criminal negligence, the charge is a class 3 misdemeanor or a class 5 felony.
A person who knowingly causes the death of a child under 12 years old, and was in a position of trust with the child, will be charged with a class 1 felony.
How Colorado Sentences Child Abuse
If you are convicted on any of the above charges, these are the penalties that will apply.
Class 3 misdemeanor: Up to 6 months in jail plus fine of $50-$750
Class 2 misdemeanor: 3-12 months in jail plus fine of $250-$1,000
Class 1 misdemeanor: 6-24 months in jail plus fine of $500 to $5,000
Class 5 felony: 1-3 years in prison plus fine of $1,000 to $100,000
Class 4 felony: 2-6 years in prison plus fine of $2,000 to $500,000
Class 3 felony: 4-12 years in prison plus fine of $3,000 to $750,000
Class 2 felony: 8-24 years in prison plus fine of $5,000 to $1,000,000
Class 1 felony: life in prison or the death penalty
About the Author:
Kimberly Diego is a criminal defense attorney in Denver practicing at The Law Office of Kimberly Diego. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and her law degree at the University of Colorado. She was named one of Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars of 2012” and “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012 and 2013 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state. She has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.