A careful look at the Colorado Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor statute, C.R.S. 18-6-701, should make anyone around kids nervous. In Jefferson, Arapahoe, and Douglas County, this crime is a serious class 4 felony. I am aware that many people in Colorado feel it is okay to make the consequences for this crime harsh. I want to protect children too, but I also want to be reasonable. Should we have the same punishment for an adult who encourages a child to litter as we do for an adult who encourages a child to take drugs? One size never fits all circumstances and this crime is the poster child for ridiculous.
Elements of Contributing to the Delinquency of a Child
The average Denver area resident has never read the Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor statute. So to make my point, here it is. “(1) Any person who induces, aids, or encourage a child to violate any federal or state law, municipal or county ordinance, or court order commits contributing to the delinquency of a minor. For the purposes of this section, the term ‘child’ means any person under the age of eighteen years.” Section 2 says this crime is a class 4 felony.
Absurd Results with One Size Fits all Law
This statue is so broad it applies equally to someone who encourages a 16 year old to not pay a parking ticket as it does someone who gives cocaine to a 10 year old. It can also be used to charge and convict a soccer mom for aiding school children during a sleep over to TP a friend’s home past curfew. Common sense tells us that there should be a dramatic difference between the classes of crimes in the examples above. When I was a kid my mother drove some friends and me to the zoo so we could participate in an unsanctioned school ditch day. If she did that today, I suppose my mother could be a convicted felon.
Tough on Crime Does Not Always Mean Smart on Crime
Citizens in Weld, Adams and Douglas County love to support Colorado legislative candidates who campaign with a “tough on crime” platform. This is especially true when candidates are vocal concerning punishment for crimes against children. However, Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor is a good example of a law which should be tailored to make more sense. Encouraging a 17 year old to violate a Westminster municipal ordinance should not carry the same weight as someone aiding a 12 year old to commit a felony. We need a “smart on crime” candidate.
One reason I chose to be a Criminal Defense Attorney is so I can help good people who are caught in a system with excessively abusive consequences for their mistakes. If you have been charged with Contributing to the Delinquency, I encourage you to be smart, exercise your right to remain silent, and call the professional attorneys at 303-731-0719. Together we can protect your future.