Child abuse is taken seriously in here in Colorado, and because of that a child abuse allegation could be incredibly detrimental to your life.
When most people think about child abuse, the first thing that comes to mind is usually physical abuse, but child abuse can include other types of abuse as well. The four main types of child abuse are:
- Physical abuse: hitting, beating, pushing, kicking, choking, etc.
- Sexual abuse: fondling, molesting, exposure, exploitation, etc.
- Emotional abuse: verbal, mental, and psychological abuse
- Neglect: a pattern of not providing a child with basic physical, educational, and emotional needs
Now that you know there’s not just one type of child abuse, it’s important to understand the laws in our state when it comes to this crime. Our laws go into explicit detail concerning child abuse, and if you’re ever brought up on child abuse charges, knowing the law will be especially useful if you want to get your charges dismissed, dropped, or reduced.
Understanding Colorado’s Child Abuse Laws
Child abuse is discussed in Title 18, Criminal Code § 18-6-401 of the Colorado Revised Statutes. Let’s review what our state considers to be the crime of child abuse. For the purpose of this law, a “child” is someone who is under 16 years old.
A person commits child abuse if such person causes an injury to a child’s life or health, or permits a child to be unreasonably placed in a situation that poses a threat of injury to the child’s life or health, or engages in a continued pattern of conduct that results in malnourishment, lack of proper medical care, cruel punishment, mistreatment, or an accumulation of injuries that ultimately results in the death of a child or serious bodily injury to a child.
This portion of the law says child abuse occurs if you injure a child, put a child in a situation that could potentially injure them, neglect to properly feed or provide medical care for a child, or a child is injured so frequently that it results in serious bodily injury or death.
A person commits child abuse if such person excises or infibulates, in whole or in part, the labia majora, labia minora, vulva, or clitoris of a female child. A parent, guardian, or other person legally responsible for a female child or charged with the care or custody of a female child commits child abuse if he or she allows the excision or infibulation, in whole or in part, of such child’s labia majora, labia minora, vulva, or clitoris.
This portion of the law solely discusses sexual abuse to a female child. A person commits child abuse if they sexually abuse a female child or they allow another person to sexually abuse a female child.
A person commits child abuse if, in the presence of a child, or on the premises where a child is found, or where a child resides, or in a vehicle containing a child, the person knowingly engages in the manufacture or attempted manufacture of a controlled substance…or knowingly possesses ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, or phenylpropanolamine…with the intent to use the product as an immediate precursor in the manufacture of a controlled substance.
In Colorado, it is a crime to manufacture and/or possess illegal controlled substances. If you do this around a child, it is also considered child abuse. It’s important to note that if you are accused of this type of child abuse you won’t be able to defend yourself by saying you didn’t know a child was around.
This portion of the law also goes on to say that it’s child abuse if a parent, lawful guardian, or someone caring for a child knowingly allows the child to be present – or reasonably should know – when another person is engaged in the manufacture or attempted manufacture of methamphetamine.
How Is Child Abuse Punished in Colorado?
Depending on which portion of the law you are being accused of and the severity of the child’s injuries, you could be facing misdemeanor or felony charges.
Your punishment could range from a class 2 felony (8 to 24 years in prison and $5,000 to $1 million in fines) to a class 3 misdemeanor (up to 6 months in jail and a $50 fine).
With such a huge gap between the most severe punishment and the least severe one, don’t leave your case up to chance. Reach out to an experienced Colorado child abuse defense attorney today to defend your name and fight your charges.
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.