An Overview of Colorado Child Abuse Laws
Child abuse is one of the most serious and emotionally challenging criminal charges that any person can face. If you or your loved one is facing child abuse allegations, the stakes are high: You could be facing jail time and, in some cases, the potential loss of your parental rights.
In this article, our child abuse defense lawyers provide an overview of Colorado child abuse laws and we explain the first three steps you should take if you are facing child abuse allegations.
Child Abuse Laws in Colorado: What You Need to Know
Most child abuse cases are charged under Colorado Revised Statutes § 18-6-401— which is the state’s primary child abuse law. For the purposes of Colorado state law, a child is defined as anyone who is under the age of 16 years old. Under the statute, a defendant may face child abuse charges if they are deemed to have:
- Caused an injury to a child’s life or health;
- Put a child in an unreasonably dangerous situation; or
- Seriously neglected a child, through denial of nourishment or medical care.
In other words, you could potentially be charged with child abuse if you injure a child, negligently put them in a situation that could result in injury, or neglect them.
How is Child Abuse Punished in Colorado?
In Colorado, the penalties associated with a child abuse charge will depend on several different factors. Most importantly, punishment for child abuse will vary based on:
- The age of the child;
- The severity of the physical injuries or emotional trauma suffered; and
- Whether there are any prior convictions.
If a child suffered only minor injuries or none at all, child abuse is typically a misdemeanor offense. Still, a conviction for misdemeanor child abuse is punishable by three to eighteen months in jail. However, if a child suffered serious bodily harm, child abuse is a felony in Colorado. A conviction for the most serious form of felony child abuse carries a maximum sentence of sixteen years in prison.
Finally, it is also important to remember that parents could face additional consequences. A child abuse charge could be deemed a good cause to strip a person of their parental rights. If you are a parent who has been charged with child abuse, you need to speak to an experienced defense lawyer right away.
Accused of Child Abuse in Denver, CO? Three Steps to Take
- Stay Calm—Understand the Situation
Being accused of child abuse is stressful and intimidating. Unfortunately, false allegations do happen—especially in cases involving intra-family disputes. If you were falsely accused of child abuse, it is normal and understandable to be angry, even outraged. That being said, it is crucial that you stay calm and carefully assess the situation. One of the biggest mistakes you could make is forcefully confronting another party. Work through a legal professional.
- Secure Any Relevant Supporting Evidence
To the best of your ability, you should try to gather supporting evidence. This could include everything from direct evidence that the charges are false—perhaps a text message from the accuser that suggests they made an inaccurate child abuse report—to character testimony from family members, friends, and neighbors.
- Call a Colorado Child Abuse Defense Lawyer
You are not alone. If you are facing a criminal child abuse investigation or you have already been arrested for or charged with child abuse, it is imperative that you call an experienced Colorado child abuse defense attorney. Your attorney will be able to review the case and help you take action to protect your legal interests, parental rights, and your future.
Schedule a Free Criminal Defense Consultation Today
At Miller Leonard PC, our Colorado child abuse lawyers are competent, effective advocates for our clients. If you or your loved one was charged with child abuse, we are here to help.
To set up a free, confidential consultation, please contact our law firm now. With an office in Golden, we serve communities throughout the region, including in Jefferson County, Adams County, Boulder County, and Denver County.