The Colorado Child Abuse statute (C.R.S. 18-6-401) covers a broad range of classes of crimes. Child Abuse may be charged in Denver, Arapahoe, or Douglas county as a class 3 misdemeanor, or in Weld, and Jefferson county all the way up to a class 1 felony, or murder in the first degree as defined in C.R.S. 18-3-102(1)(f).
It was just yesterday that we received a call from a very distraught mother. She went into a dry cleaner and left her two children in the car unattended. A Jefferson County Sheriff Deputy was also in the parking lot at the time and quickly came the rescue (sarcasm intended)! The woman was charged with Child Abuse under C.R.S. 18-6-401(1)(a). This part of the statue says that a person commits Child Abuse if she "permits a child to be unreasonably placed in a situation that poses a threat of injury to the child's life or health." No injury to a child is necessary.
Reasonable people will argue over what constitutes a threatening situation, and social standards vary from location and time. What was normal in the 60's and 70's when I was a child is no longer considered safe today. Some of this is due to higher levels of awareness, and some in my opinion, is due to exaggerated and unreasonable fears injected into our society. It doesn't matter where the changes come from, but it is important to be aware of the types of conduct which will get you charged with a crime. Leaving your child unattended in a car for any length of time in Boulder, Westminster, or Castle Rock, may result in charges related to child injury.
Many people calling our office with Child Abuse charges are extremely embarrassed. Some have told us stories of how they struggled for days before being able to pick up the phone to seek legal advice. Since this crime may range from letting your kids ride in the back of a pickup truck, to the much more serious kinds with physical injury, our clients believe family and friends will think the worst. Regardless, it is important to seek legal advice as quickly as possible. We know that most cases involve errors in judgment, or an angry neighbor. It is actually rare when we see someone that intentionally tried to harm a child.
If someone you care about is facing Child Abuse charges, do them and their family a favor by referring them to O'Malley Law Office, P.C. Tell them to exercise their right to remain silent, and call us at 303-731-0719. Together we can protect their future."