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Child Abuse-Endangering the Welfare of a Child

Ask any Colorado criminal defense lawyer–very few crimes send an immediate danger signal to the police or a district attorney faster than a child abuse-endangering the welfare of a child charge. The criminal lawyer will also tell you that there are very few crimes that raise the eye of the public, and gain the focus of the court, more than an endangering the welfare of a child. All law enforcement parties take these cases very seriously as well. The perception is that children are incapable of taking care of and raising themselves, and therefore need adult supervision and guidance. When that supervision and guidance breaks down, there are significant ramifications.

There are several factors that the Colorado courts and the district attorney consider in an endangering the welfare of a child case. Who is the adult? What is the relationship between the child and the adult? Was it a parent or a family relationship? Was it a professional? (Day care provider, teacher, doctor, and so forth.) Did the child suffer an injury, or was the child just exposed to potential injury? Was the injury physical, emotional or both? These are just some of the questions that the Court and district attorney try to answer.

Moreover, most times the endangering charge results in an order of protection that precludes the defendant from contacting or being near the subject child. Your Colorado endangering the welfare of a child defense lawyer will tell you that violating this order will result in the defendant being arrested, and that he or she will wind up facing an additional criminal charge of criminal contempt.

If convicted of the endangering criminal charges, the defendant–aside from the criminal sentence the judge can impose, which might include jail, probation, community service, counseling and fines–there are potential civil penalties the defendant can face. A parent or close family member could lose visitation or legal custody. The criminal defendant can also be placed on the statewide Central Registry of Child Protection for people who abused or neglected children. This registry is available to public.

Your Colorado criminal lawyer will tell you that regardless of what Colorado county or Colorado district attorney office, the endangering the welfare of a child criminal charge can have additional charges connected to it. For example, if a parent engages in excessive corporal punishment and hits a child with a belt, the parent will face a felony charge for  assault in the 2nd degree along with a misdemeanor for endangering the welfare of a child.

If you are facing the office of the district attorney in your county for an endangering the welfare of a child charge, you need an experienced, knowledgeable and aggressive criminal defense team to advocate for your innocence. This is the time to call The Steinberg Colorado Criminal Defense Law Firm. H. Michael Steinberg has over 26 years of experience handling criminal cases, including endangering charges.

The law firm offers you the opportunity to have a free consultation so you can discuss your  endangering the welfare charge and any other criminal charges you may be facing. Call 303-543-4433 or 303 627-7777 now.

Examples of Abuse or Neglect under Colorado State Law

Physical Abuse: When there is evidence that the child has experienced physical harm or injury by the parent or caretaker, or has been subjected to circumstances that could reasonably pose a serious threat of physical harm or injury.

Neglect of Basic Needs: When the parent or caretaker fails, either deliberately or through inability, to take those actions necessary to provide a child with adequate food, clothing, shelter, or other essential care.

Educational Neglect: When the parent or caretaker, either through action or omission, fails to provide for the child’s education and/or school attendance.

Abandonment: When the child has no parental support nor available alternate caretaker.

Medical Neglect: When the child requires medical treatment that the parent/caretaker has not provided, and the failure to provide such care presents a substantial risk to the child.

Emotional Maltreatment: When the parent or caretaker’s acts or omissions have caused, or are likely to cause, identifiable and substantial impairment to the child’s psychological or intellectual capacity or functioning.

Lack of Supervision: When the child’s age and skill level require parental supervision, and the lack of could have or did result in harm to the child.

Sexual Abuse: When a child has been subjected to sexual intercourse, sexual contact, including touching of the genitals, buttocks or breasts. Sexual abuse also includes actions and behaviors when there is not physical contact, including but not limited to exhibitionism, sexual exploitation and pornography.

Lack of Adequate Care: When the parent is unavailable to provide care due to incarceration or hospitalization, and there is no alternate caretaker.

Colorado Child Abuse Laws

Misdemeanor & Felony Child Abuse

Child Abuse (18-6-401)

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.

(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.

(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 in an expeditious manner.

(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.

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.

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.

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.

6.Repealed.

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

(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).

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

(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.

(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 the underlying factual basis of the child abuse, which would constitute a misdemeanor, has been found by the trier of fact to include one of the acts described in paragraph (e) of this subsection (7), subsequent to a prior conviction under this section, 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 the underlying factual basis of the child abuse, which would constitute a misdemeanor, has been found by the trier of fact to include one of the acts described in paragraph (e) of this subsection (7), subsequent to a prior conviction under this section, then it is a class 5 felony.

(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 the underlying factual basis of the child abuse, which would constitute a misdemeanor, has been found by the trier of fact to include one of the acts described in paragraph (e) of this subsection (7), subsequent to a prior conviction under this section, 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 the underlying factual basis of the child abuse, which would constitute a misdemeanor, has been found by the trier of fact to include one of the acts described in paragraph (e) of this subsection (7), subsequent to a prior conviction under this section, then it is a class 5 felony.

(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.

(e) If a person commits child abuse by engaging in one of the following acts, then such person shall be punished for a second or subsequent conviction 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):

(I) A continued pattern of conduct that results in malnourishment or lack of proper medical care of the child;

(II) A continued pattern of cruel punishment or unreasonable isolation or confinement of the child;

(III) Repeated threats by such person of harm or death to the child or to a significant person in the child’s life, which threats are made in the presence of the child;

(IV) A continued pattern of acts of domestic violence committed by such person, as that term is defined in section 18-6-800.3, in the presence of the child; or

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

(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).

(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).

8. Repealed.

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.

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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
Primary Web Site:  http://www.HMichaelSteinberg.com
Colorado Criminal Law Blog:  www.Colorado-Criminal-Lawyer-Online.com
Main:  303.627.7777
Cell:  720.220.2277
24/7 Pager:  303.543.4433
FAX (Toll Free):  1.877.533.6276
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