An allegation of child abuse is a serious issue that can impact your relationship with your family forever. The consequences of a child abuse conviction could be devastating and last a lifetime.
If you have been accused of child abuse, let an experienced criminal defense attorney help you fight the charges. To defend yourself and your rights, contact a Colorado Front Range domestic violence defense lawyer. Jenn and Justie at Nicol Gersch Law are ready to help you build a defense against the charges immediately upon your arrest.
What Constitutes Child Abuse?
The crime of child abuse in Colorado is governed by Colorado Revised Statute §18-6-401. Child abuse occurs when a 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 to the child’s life or health. Also included is any behavior that results in malnourishment, lack of proper medical care, cruel punishment, mistreatment, or an accumulation of injuries that result in the serious injury or death of a child.
Child abuse is a highly case-specific offense. When accused of child abuse, the court will consider the alleged abusive behavior, the intent behind it, and many other factors. Many behaviors and situations can be classified as child abuse. These include, but are not limited to:
- Excessive physical restraint or periods of isolation
- Leaving your child unsupervised or with a person who is incapable of supervising
- Making believable threats to kill or severely injure a child
- Allowing your child to witness or participate in drug or alcohol use
- Manufacturing (or attempted manufacturing) of controlled substances in the presence of your child
- Driving under the influence when your child is present
- Allowing your child to witness domestic violence
- Being unwilling to meet your child’s basic needs for food, shelter, clothing, or a safe environment
- Being unwilling to seek or provide medical care
- Not allowing your child to have appropriate educational instruction
- Failing to make reasonable efforts to locate your child if they are missing
- Engaging in sexual activity in your child’s presence
Striking your child with an object or fist with the intention of harm is also child abuse, with the exception of ‘reasonable parent discipline.’ The term reasonable parent discipline includes spanking or related discipline, but there are limits. It has to be “reasonable” and cause no bodily injury to the child. When deciding if discipline is reasonable, the court may look at the severity of the injury, the child’s age, and the portion of the punishment to misbehavior.
The Intent Behind the Alleged Abuse
When looking at child abuse cases, the intent behind the abusive behavior will also be considered. The courts look to a mental state of either knowingly, recklessly, or negligently depending on the circumstances and crime charged. These terms apply to a wide variety of criminal offenses, with child abuse included.
Knowing acts are committed intentionally, with the offender generally aware of the abusive nature of their acts. Abusing your child with the intent of harm would be considered a “knowing” child abuse act.
Reckless acts are done intentionally with a disregard to the potential consequences of that act. If you drive under the influence with your children in the car, that would be considered a “reckless” child abuse act.
Negligent acts are committed when the offender fails to perceive a substantial risk and does not perform the standard of care that a reasonable person would exercise. An example of a “negligent” child abuse act is leaving your young child at home unsupervised while you go run errands.
Overall, there are no hard and fast rules for those charged with child abuse. It is largely case-specific, and the court will consider the entire situation of the alleged abusive behavior and the intent behind it. Depending on the severity of alleged abuse and the damage inflicted on the child, the accused could be facing either a misdemeanor or a felony.
Seek Help from a Colorado Front Range Child Abuse Attorney
From attorneys to investigators, the state will be prepared to expend resources on convicting you at trial. Level the playing field by hiring an experienced Colorado Front Range child abuse lawyer.
Jenn and Justie can investigate the claim, gather evidence, and build a strong defense. You do not need to fight the charges alone. Let our legal team at Nicol Gersch Law help your case. Call today to get started!