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Colorado Child Abuse Crimes, Penalties and Sentencing – C.R.S. 18-6-401  Colorado Revised Statutes

By Colorado Criminal Defense Lawyer -H. Michael Steinberg - for the Defense of Colorado Child Abuse Cases

Understanding Colorado Child Abuse Laws – Law You Can Use

Introduction – The Colorado Child Abuse Statute is very complex.  It is set up in such a way as to require an analysis of two things – 1) the mental state of the accused at the time of the crime and 2) the result of the accused actions – that is – the injury sustained to the child. Punishment is then applied when this determinations have been made.

This analysis of the law ( which is reprinted below in it’s entirety ) is to assist the researcher with the diagnosis of the individual case.)

C.R.S. 18-6-401 (2011)

HMS – What follows is the law and my analysis of the law …

(1) (a) 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.

HMS – - 18-6-401. Child abuse (1)(a) This section describes the basic elements of the crime

CHILD ABUSE (KNOWING OR RECKLESS)

The elements of the crime of knowing or reckless child abuse are:

  1. That the defendant,

  2. in the State of Colorado, at or about the date and place charged,

  3. knowingly or recklessly,

  4. [caused an injury to a child's life or health]

-or-

  4. [permitted a child to be unreasonably placed in a situation that posed a threat of injury to the child's life or health]

-or-

  4. [engaged in a continued pattern of conduct that resulted in malnourishment, lack of proper

medical care, cruel punishment, mistreatment, or an accumulation of injuries that ultimately resulted in the death of a child or serious bodily injury to a child. 

CHILD ABUSE (CRIMINAL NEGLIGENCE)

The elements of the crime of criminally negligent child abuse are:

  1. That the defendant,

  2. in the State of Colorado, at or about the date and place charged,

  3. with criminal negligence,

  [4. [caused an injury to a child's life or health]

-or-

  4. [permitted a child to be unreasonably placed in a situation that posed a threat of injury to the child's life or health]

-or-

  4. [engaged in a continued pattern of conduct that resulted 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]]

HMS – Some Specific Types Of Child Abuse Are Now Addressed in the statute:

(b) (I) Except as otherwise provided in subparagraph (III) of this paragraph (b), 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.

HMS – Illegal Rites or Rituals

(II) Belief that the conduct described in subparagraph (I) of this paragraph (b) is required as a matter of custom, ritual, or standard practice or consent to the conduct by the child on whom it is performed or by the child’s parent or legal guardian shall not be an affirmative defense to a charge of child abuse under this paragraph (b).

(III) A surgical procedure as described in subparagraph (I) of this paragraph (b) is not a crime if the procedure:

(A) Is necessary to preserve the health of the child on whom it is performed and is performed by a person licensed to practice medicine under article 36 of title 12, C.R.S.; or

(B) Is performed on a child who is in labor or who has just given birth and is performed for medical purposes connected with that labor or birth by a person licensed to practice medicine under article 36 of title 12, C.R.S.

(IV) If the district attorney having jurisdiction over a case arising under this paragraph (b) has a reasonable belief that any person arrested or charged pursuant to this paragraph (b) is not a citizen or national of the United States, the district attorney shall report such information to the immigration and naturalization service, or any successor agency, in an expeditious manner. 

HMS – Children Present Around the Manufacture of Drugs - (such as Methamphetamine):

(c) (I) 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, as defined by section 18-18-102 (5), or knowingly possesses ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, or phenylpropanolamine, or their salts, isomers, or salts of isomers, with the intent to use the product as an immediate precursor in the manufacture of a controlled substance. It shall be no defense to the crime of child abuse, as described in this subparagraph (I), that the defendant did not know a child was present, a child could be found, a child resided on the premises, or that a vehicle contained a child.

(II) A parent or lawful guardian of a child or a person having the care or custody of a child who knowingly allows the child to be present at or reside at a premises or to be in a vehicle where the parent, guardian, or person having care or custody of the child knows or reasonably should know another person is engaged in the manufacture or attempted manufacture of methamphetamine commits child abuse.

(III) A parent or lawful guardian of a child or a person having the care or custody of a child who knowingly allows the child to be present at or reside at a premises or to be in a vehicle where the parent, guardian, or person having care or custody of the child knows or reasonably should know another person possesses ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, or phenylpropanolamine, or their salts, isomers, or salts of isomers, with the intent to use the product as an immediate precursor in the manufacture of methamphetamine commits child abuse.

(2) In this section, “child” means a person under the age of sixteen years. 

HMS – The next statute removes the confidentiality privileges that typically protects husband – wife and doctor- patient confidentiality in these cases

(3) The statutory privilege between patient and physician and between husband and wife shall not be available for excluding or refusing testimony in any prosecution for a violation of this section. 

HMS – The next statute grants immunity to individuals who report child abuse to the authorities:

(4) No person, other than the perpetrator, complicitor, coconspirator, or accessory, who reports an instance of child abuse to law enforcement officials shall be subjected to criminal or civil liability for any consequence of making such report unless he knows at the time of making it that it is untrue. 

HMS – The next section permits deferred prosecutions in minor child abuse cases:

(5) Deferred prosecution is authorized for a first offense under this section unless the provisions of subsection (7.5) of this section or section 18-6-401.2 apply.

….

HMS – This is the key law that governs how certain kinds of child abuse is punished as discussed in the introduction. The child abuse sentencing law takes a “one from column a – one from column b” approach:

HMS – In cases where death or an actual injury results – you apply this section… 

(7) (a) Where death or injury results, the following shall apply:

HMS – If the person acts KNOWINGLY OR RECKLESSLY AND the child abuse results in DEATH TO THE CHILD – the felony becomes a class TWO (2) felony.

(I) When a person acts knowingly or recklessly and the child abuse results in death to the child, it is a class 2 felony except as provided in paragraph (c) of this subsection (7).

HMS – If the person acts with CRIMINAL NEGLIGENCE – and death results the felony becomes a class THREE (3) felony.

(II) When a person acts with criminal negligence and the child abuse results in death to the child, it is a class 3 felony. 

HMS – If the person acts KNOWINGLY AND RECKLESSLY AND the child abuse results in SERIOUS BODILY INJURY the felony becomes a class THREE (3) felony.

(III) When a person acts knowingly or recklessly and the child abuse results in serious bodily injury to the child, it is a class 3 felony. 

HMS – If the person acts with CRIMINAL NEGLIGENCE – and death results the felony becomes a class FOUR (4) felony

(IV) When a person acts with criminal negligence and the child abuse results in serious bodily injury to the child, it is a class 4 felony. 

HMS – If the person acts KNOWINGLY AND RECKLESSLY AND the child abuse results in an injury OTHER THAN SERIOUS BODILY INJURY the felony becomes a class ONE (1) misdemeanor. … but see subsection 7 (below).

(V) When a person acts knowingly or recklessly and the child abuse results in any injury other than serious bodily injury, it is a class 1 misdemeanor; except that, if it is committed under the circumstances described in paragraph (e) of this subsection (7), then it is a class 5 felony.

(VI) When a person acts with criminal negligence and the child abuse results in any injury other than serious bodily injury to the child, it is a class 2 misdemeanor; except that, if it is committed under the circumstances described in paragraph (e) of this subsection (7), then it is a class 5 felony. 

HMS – If there is NO INJURY to the child – the following criminal categorizations apply:

(b) Where no death or injury results, the following shall apply:

(I) An act of child abuse when a person acts knowingly or recklessly is a class 2 misdemeanor; except that, if it is committed under the circumstances described in paragraph (e) of this subsection (7), then it is a class 5 felony.

(II) An act of child abuse when a person acts with criminal negligence is a class 3 misdemeanor; except that, if it is committed under the circumstances described in paragraph (e) of this subsection (7), then it is a class 5 felony. 

HMS – The following discussions are ENHANCERS and apply to modify the potential sentence in Colorado child abuse cases

Acting In A Position Of Trust – causing the death of a child

(c) When a person knowingly causes the death of a child who has not yet attained twelve years of age and the person committing the offense is one in a position of trust with respect to the child, such person commits the crime of murder in the first degree as described in section 18-3-102 (1) (f).

(d) When a person commits child abuse as described in paragraph (c) of subsection (1) of this section, it is a class 3 felony.

Prior Convictions – Position of Trust – Patterns ( including acts of domestic violence )or History of Conduct of Child Abuse ENHANCERS 

(e) A person who has previously been convicted of a violation of this section or of an offense in any other state, the United States, or any territory subject to the jurisdiction of the United States that would constitute child abuse if committed in this state and who commits child abuse as provided in subparagraph (V) or (VI) of paragraph (a) of this subsection (7) or as provided in subparagraph (I) or (II) of paragraph (b) of this subsection (7) commits a class 5 felony if the trier of fact finds that the new offense involved any of the following acts:

(I) The defendant, who was in a position of trust, as described in section 18-3-401 (3.5), in relation to the child, participated in a continued pattern of conduct that resulted in the child’s malnourishment or failed to ensure the child’s access to proper medical care;

(II) The defendant participated in a continued pattern of cruel punishment or unreasonable isolation or confinement of the child;

(III) The defendant made repeated threats of harm or death to the child or to a significant person in the child’s life, which threats were made in the presence of the child;

(IV) The defendant committed a continued pattern of acts of domestic violence, as that term is defined in section 18-6-800.3, in the presence of the child; or

(V) The defendant participated in a continued pattern of extreme deprivation of hygienic or sanitary conditions in the child’s daily living environment.

HMS – The following enhances the child abuse statute and makes it an EXTRAORDINARY SENTENCING RANGE

(7.3) Felony child abuse is an extraordinary risk crime that is subject to the modified presumptive sentencing range specified in section 18-1.3-401 (10). Misdemeanor child abuse is an extraordinary risk crime that is subject to the modified sentencing range specified in section 18-1.3-501 (3). 

HMS – The following section applies Colorado’s MANDATORY PRISON SENTENCES to the most serious types of felony child abuse

(7.5) If a defendant is convicted of the class 2 or class 3 felony of child abuse under subparagraph (I) or (III) of paragraph (a) of subsection (7) of this section, the court shall sentence the defendant in accordance with section 18-1.3-401 (8) (d).

HMS – The last section provides immunity for relinquishing a new born infant child to the authorities if the child is not injured:

(9) If a parent is charged with permitting a child to be unreasonably placed in a situation that poses a threat of injury to the child’s life or health, pursuant to paragraph (a) of subsection (1) of this section, and the child was seventy-two hours old or younger at the time of the alleged offense, it shall be an affirmative defense to such charge that the parent safely, reasonably, and knowingly handed the child over to a firefighter, as defined in section 18-3-201 (1), or to a hospital staff member who engages in the admission, care, or treatment of patients, when such firefighter is at a fire station or such hospital staff member is at a hospital

If you are being investigated of child abuse in Colorado or have been charged with such crimes you may benefit from a consultation with H. Michael Steinberg – as a very experienced Colorado criminal defense professional – he can assess your claim and defend you in a criminal court of law.

If you feel that you have been falsely accused of child abuse in Colorado CLICK HERE for more information.

 

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___________________________
H. Michael Steinberg Esq.
Attorney and Counselor at Law
The Colorado Criminal Defense Law Firm of H. Michael Steinberg
A Denver, Colorado Lawyer Focused Exclusively On
Colorado Criminal Law For Over 30 Years.
The Edward Building
8400 East Prentice Avenue - Suite 420
Greenwood Village, Colorado 80111
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