Colorado takes protecting its children very seriously and imposes strict penalties on those convicted of harming them. If you are under investigation for or already charged with endangering a child, consult with an experienced domestic violence attorney knowledgeable in this area before having any further contact with authorities. An experienced Greenwood Village child endangerment lawyer may be the key to salvaging your reputation and avoiding severe punishment.
Child Endangerment is a Form of Child Abuse
Unlike some other states, Colorado does not have a separate offense for child endangerment; the law incorporates it into the definition of child abuse in Section 18-6-401(1)(a) of the Colorado Revised Statutes. Under this section, a person engages in child abuse if their actions harm the child or place them in a dangerous situation, putting their lives or health at risk. Habitual behavior that results in malnutrition, insufficient medical attention, multiple minor injuries that together seriously injure the child, and other forms of maltreatment also satisfy the definition of child abuse.
Factors central to the crime level charged and the severity of punishment are the accused’s state of mind (whether they acted knowingly, recklessly, or negligently), the age of the child, and the harm inflicted. In addition, other facts such as who reported the alleged abuse and if they have a devious motive may be critical to defeating the charges. Our child endangerment attorneys understand how to delve into the facts, effectively explain the suspect’s side of the story, and focus on mitigating potential penalties.
Enhanced Sentences for Child Endangerment
Colorado identifies various crimes as “extraordinary risk crimes.” Felony child abuse is one such extraordinary risk crime set out on the list in C.R.S. § 18-1.3-401(10), while C.R.S. 18-1.3-501(3)(b) addresses misdemeanor child abuse. These crimes place the public at a heightened risk of harm, and in response, the legal system imposes stricter presumptive incarceration times. Added jail or prison time can increase by 6 months to 4 years, depending on the offense’s classification.
Charges and Penalties for Placing a Child in Harm’s Way
Endangering the welfare of a child can be a misdemeanor or felony offense. The circumstances giving rise to these charges vary so greatly that a wide range of incarceration periods and fines are possible. The more significant the injury, the more likely the accused will face felony charges. Such situations include:
- Serious bodily injury
- Prior convictions for child abuse anywhere in the U.S.
- Suspects holding a position of trust
The law defines a person in a position of trust as someone responsible for the child’s health and well-being at the time of the incident. This definition goes beyond parents and legal guardians to include teachers, doctors, nannies, and many others.
Child abuse can range from a class 1 felony (F1) to an F5 crime. At the most extreme end, alleged perpetrators may face life imprisonment for an F1 crime, such as first-degree murder. Those guilty of F5 crimes may receive sentences of 1 to 4 years in prison and fines ranging from $1,000 to $100,000.
If the behavior does not cause serious bodily harm or death, then misdemeanor charges will likely apply. In these cases, suspects face jail times up to 18 months and fines from $50 to $5,000. Both felony and misdemeanor child endangerment convictions could also put a parent’s custody rights into question. A robust defense plan is necessary to combat these allegations, and our child endangerment legal team is ready to help.
Retain a Seasoned Greenwood Village Child Endangerment Attorney to Fight for You
When a child is harmed, the public wants accountability, and authorities push hard for a conviction. It may feel like the world is against you. However, by asserting your rights with the help of a dedicated, tenacious Greenwood Village child endangerment lawyer, you may avoid the harshest penalties and preserve your future. Call the Colorado Lawyer Team today.