Why You Need Expert Defense for Child Abuse Charges in Colorado

Feb 13, 2024 | Child Abuse Defense

Table of Contents:

Laws for Protecting the Vulnerable Mean Severe Penalties for Harming a Child

What You’ll Learn in This Post

Criminal Child Abuse Charges in Colorado Go Beyond Physical Violence and Harm

The More Severe the Perceived Harm, the More Severe the Potential Penalties

Defenses Your Attorney Can Raise to Fight Child Abuse Charges

Don’t Let a False Accusation of Child Abuse Ruin Your Life

Laws for Protecting The Vulnerable Means Severe Penalties For Harming a Child

Children are vulnerable, impressionable, small, and largely defenseless against violence or threats by adults, which is why a conviction for child abuse charges comes with severe penalties. Colorado prosecutors aggressively seek to put child abuse offenders behind bars, and when they’re successful, the lives of those accused are never the same.

What You’ll Learn in This Post:

  • Given the nature of the harm involved and the vulnerability of victims, prosecutors in Colorado aggressively pursue child abuse charges, seeking the most severe penalties upon conviction, including potentially years behind bars.
  • You could face child abuse charges even if you did not physically harm the child, as other conduct, such as negligently endangering your child or threats, can meet the definition of child abuse under Colorado law.
  • Because of the severity of the consequences upon conviction and given that law enforcement officers and prosecutors can be overzealous in their efforts to protect children, retaining an experienced child abuse defense attorney is critical if you want to fight the charges.

Criminal Child Abuse Charges in Colorado Go Beyond Physical Violence and Harm

While physical violence and harm to a child can and often do form the basis of child abuse charges, other conduct can also get someone arrested and charged with the crime. That is because of the broad definition of child abuse contained in Colorado Revised Statutes § 18-6-401, which provides that a person commits child abuse if they:

  • Cause an injury to a child’s life or health.
  • Allow a child to be unreasonably placed in any situation which poses a threat of injury to the child’s life or health.
  • Engage in a continuous pattern of conduct that leads to a lack of medical care, malnourishment, cruel punishment, and mistreatment.
  • Allow or inflict an accumulation of injuries that ultimately result in the death of a child or serious bodily injury to a child.

Under this expansive definition, a wide range of behaviors not involving physical violence or harm are sufficient to justify charges. This includes things like leaving a child unsupervised for an extended period or in a hot car, driving while intoxicated with a child present, or permitting a minor to be in the presence of violence, drugs, or other unreasonable situations can all result in child abuse charges, even if the child emerges from such scenarios unharmed.

You Might Like: Tips for Choosing the Best DUI Defense Attorney Near You

Just failing to meet your fundamental duty as a parent to care for your child – providing them with food, clothing, shelter, education, medical care, and hygiene – can be child abuse.

Words and threats alone can be a basis for child abuse charges, as repeated threats of harm or death to a child or a significant person in the child’s life, made in the child’s presence, constitute criminal child abuse charges under Colorado law.

The More Severe the Perceived Harm, the More Severe the Potential Penalties

El Paso County prosecutors can charge child abuse as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the nature and scope of the abuse, the severity of the injuries or harm, the relationship of the accused to the victim, and the accused’s intent.

Child abuse is what is known as an “extraordinary risk” crime under Colorado law. As such, it comes with harsher penalties than other misdemeanors. The penalties for misdemeanor child abuse in Colorado are as follows:

  • Child abuse, which is the result of criminal negligence without injury: a class three misdemeanor that could lead to a sentence of up to 12 months in county jail.
  • Child abuse done knowingly or recklessly but does not cause injury: a class two misdemeanor that could send the defendant to jail for up to 18 months.
  • If the child is injured, but without serious bodily injury: a class one misdemeanor with a possible penalty of two years in jail.

For any form of child abuse resulting in the death or serious bodily injury to the child, or for a second or subsequent conviction, prosecutors will charge child abuse as a felony. The possibility of life in prison is likely upon conviction.

James - child abuse charges in colorado springs may be a case of an accident

Defenses Your Attorney Can Raise to Fight Child Abuse Charges

There are several effective legal defenses that a creative and experienced Colorado Springs child abuse defense lawyer can raise in defending their client against these charges. Here are some potential legal defenses:

Lack of Evidence

The prosecution must be able to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. An attorney can defend against child abuse charges by asserting that there is insufficient evidence to prove that the alleged abuse occurred, that the evidence is unreliable, or by challenging the credibility of witnesses to the alleged event.

False Accusations

Criminal defense attorneys, especially those who were former prosecutors themselves, know that many times, allegations of child abuse are false and made with malicious intent, such as in cases of parental alienation or disputes between adults.

You Might Like: Why Former Prosecutors Are the Best Criminal Defense Attorneys

Accidental Injury

A lawyer can demonstrate that any injuries to the child were the result of an accident rather than intentional abuse.

Parental Right to Discipline

Another powerful defense your attorney can raise against child abuse charges is asserting that the actions taken by the accused were within the reasonable scope of parental discipline and not abusive in nature.

Lack of Intent

Finally, an experienced child abuse lawyer can argue that the accused did not have the intent to harm the child and that any actions were not willful or malicious.

The specific strategies and defenses would depend on the case’s unique circumstances.

Related: How to Get Domestic Violence Charges Dropped or Reduced in Colorado

James - mother reunited with child after child abuse charges proved false

Don’t Let a False Accusation of Child Abuse Ruin Your Life

Child abuse is a very serious matter. Because of the nature of the crime, law enforcement officers and prosecutors can be overly zealous and err on the side of caution to protect the alleged victim. They may arrest a parent or other adult in situations where no criminal child abuse has occurred or when a situation has been misconstrued.

Facing child abuse charges can damage your relationships and reputation in the community. But if those charges lead to conviction, you’ll face a lifetime of other consequences that will last long after you’ve served any sentence imposed by the court. Your sentence can include restrictions to your rights as a parent, and you will have to live with the irreparable damage to your relationships and reputation long after you have served any time.

If you face child abuse charges, retaining the best Colorado Springs criminal defense lawyer is crucial to your freedom and your reputation. The child abuse defense attorneys at James Newby Law in Colorado Springs are staunch protectors of the accused and will work tirelessly to obtain the best possible outcome.

Don’t let false child abuse charges ruin your life and reputation – speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney today!