Your Guide to Understanding Colorado’s Child Abuse Laws

Do you know what constitutes child abuse under Colorado laws? By looking at the statutes, you can gain a greater understanding of child abuse charges and associated penalties in our state.

The Legal Definition of Child Abuse in Colorado

A person commits child abuse by putting a child in a harmful or neglectful situation.

Colorado laws call acts such as these child abuse (others may also be included):

  • Acting in any way that leads to a child’s physical injury or death
  • Placing a child in a situation that poses the risk of injury or death
  • Failing to provide adequate nutrition for a child
  • Failing to provide adequate medical care for a child
  • Punishing or mistreating a child with cruelty
  • Acting in a pattern that causes injuries to accumulate, which results in a child’s serious bodily injury or death
  • Receiving a drunk driving charge while a child is in the vehicle
  • Allowing or performing genital mutilation or female circumcision on a child
  • Permitting a child to be present where illegal drugs are present or being manufactured

Anyone in a position of trust to the child at the time of the alleged abuse can be charged with a crime. This includes parents, foster parents, or legal guardians; day care workers or babysitters; health care workers; teachers or counselors; or anyone else responsible for a child’s welfare, supervision, education, or health.

One last thing of importance to note: state laws consider a child to be anyone under the age of 16 years.

Consequences You Can Face If You are Charged with Child Abuse

Penalties for a child abuse conviction depend on several factors. The court will consider the frequency and severity of the abuse, as well as whether it included sexual abuse. It will also consider the child’s age, the defendant’s criminal history, and whether the defendant acted with knowledge, negligence or recklessness.

Here is a breakdown of potential charges and penalties:

  1. Minor injury or no injury to child: misdemeanor charge, sentence ranging from 3-18 months in jail and a fine between $50 and $1,000, depending on the circumstances.
  2. Minor injury or no injury to child, prior conviction of child abuse: Class 5 felony charge, sentence ranging from 1-5 years in prison and a fine between $1,000 and $100,000.
  3. Serious bodily injury to child: Class 3 or Class 4 felony, sentence ranging from 2-16 years in prison and a fine between $2,000 and $750,000, depending on the circumstances.
  4. Death of a child: Class 2 or Class 3 felony, sentence ranging from 4-24 years in prison and a fine between $3,000 and $1,000,000, depending on the circumstances.
  5. First-degree murder for child under 12 and defendant acted with knowledge: life in prison or death penalty.

Additionally, anyone in a position of trust with a child who fails to report suspected abuse can be charged with a Class 3 misdemeanor and other charges.

What to Do If You Find Yourself Up against a Colorado Child Abuse Charge

Denver Child Abuse Attorney

If you have been charged with child abuse in Colorado, you are facing serious consequences. You risk losing custody of your child, and you may be required to serve a long prison sentence or probation term, as well as paying significant fines. If sexual crimes were involved, you may be required to register as a sex offender.

You need an understanding Colorado defense lawyer who will listen to your story. Your actions may have been misinterpreted, and you may need rehabilitation more than punitive measures to get help.

Contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation. We will work to preserve your freedom and your reputation.


About the Author:

Denver-based criminal defense and DUI attorney Jacob E. Martinez is a knowledgeable and experienced litigator with a record of success providing innovative solutions to clients facing criminal charges of any severity. Mr. Martinez has been designated a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers and has been awarded both the Avvo Client’s Choice Award and Avvo Top Attorney designation, evidencing his reputation for his exemplary criminal and DUI defense work and high moral standards.