What is Child Abuse in Colorado?

by | Jan 6, 2020 | Child Abuse Defense

Child abuse in Colorado is not what you think it is. Actually, it is far more than what you may think it is. While physical violence or injury to a child can certainly constitute criminal child abuse that can lead to jail time and other severe consequences, Colorado law is much more expansive when it comes to the kinds of conduct that can result in criminal charges and conviction.

Colorado Law on Child Abuse

Colorado Revised Statutes § 18-6-401 provides that 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.

Note that much of what can constitute criminal child abuse in Colorado are acts of neglect and negligence rather than intentional or physical acts of violence.

Allowing a child in your care to be in a situation that poses a threat to the child, even without any intent to cause harm, and even if no injury occurs, can still result in child abuse charges. Things like leaving a child unsupervised for an extended period of time or in a hot car, driving under the influence of alcohol with a child in the car, or allowing a child to be in the presence of violence, drugs, or other situations which would be clearly unreasonable can all result in child abuse charges.

Additionally, failing to meet basic parental responsibilities – food, clothing, shelter, education, medical care, hygiene – can result in child abuse charges and jail time.

Words and threats can be a basis for child abuse charges, as Colorado law seeks to protect the emotional and psychological health of children as well as their physical well-being. Repeated threats by a person of harm or death to a child or to a significant person in the child’s life, made in the presence of the child, are a specific basis for child abuse charges under Colorado law.

Is Disciplining Your Children Child Abuse?

When it comes to the parental discipline of a child – including corporal punishment such as spanking – the reasonableness of such discipline under the circumstances will determine whether or not the act of discipline constituted child abuse.

Under Colorado law, a parent or guardian can raise an affirmative defense to child abuse charges that the allegedly abusive conduct involved “acts that could be construed to be a reasonable exercise of parental discipline.”

In determining what is “reasonable,” factors such as the child’s age, the extent of any physical harm, the proportionality of the punishment to the misbehavior, and the totality of the circumstances will be considered. It is a very fact-specific analysis, and there is no hard and fast rule as to when a parent disciplining a child crosses the line into child abuse.

Fighting False Charges of Child Abuse in Colorado Springs Courts

Regardless of the alleged conduct involved, child abuse in Colorado is a serious criminal offense that the law, police, and prosecutors all aggressively seek to prevent and punish.  Fighting false charges of child abuse in the Colorado Springs courts is a serious challenge and the repercussions of a failed defense will hang over you for years to come.

Child abuse charges can be successfully fought with an experienced and creative criminal defense attorney.

Schedule a Free Case Review

If you have been charged with child abuse in the Pikes Peak area, it is absolutely essential that you speak with an experienced Colorado Springs child abuse defense lawyer as soon as possible.

James Newby

James Newby

James Newby is a criminal defense attorney in Colorado Springs and the managing attorney of the criminal justice law firm James Newby Law. James got into law because of a deep-rooted passion for helping good people that may have made a poor choice that could have lasting consequences.