Denver CO Lawyers
Is Child Abuse a Felony or a Misdemeanor in Colorado?

Is Child Abuse a Felony or a Misdemeanor in Colorado?

Is Child Abuse a Felony or a Misdemeanor in Colorado?

Child abuse charges are serious allegations that deserve an effective defense. If you are facing such charges, you may be wondering two things: “Is child abuse a felony or a misdemeanor in Colorado?” and “What are the consequences of a child abuse conviction?” Ultimately, the answer to the first question determines the answer to the second.

Criminal Child Abuse Charges in Colorado

The child abuse statute in Colorado is notoriously broad, allowing for the state to levy charges for a wide range of behaviors, some of which are considered normal by many. The statute essentially considers an action to be child abuse when it injures a child, puts a child in a position that can injure their health, or is repeated behavior that ultimately leads to any of these results:

  • Malnourishment
  • Lack of proper medical care
  • Cruel punishment
  • Mistreatment
  • Multiple injuries that, together, lead to death or serious bodily harm.

As you can see, there is an inherent vagueness in the child abuse law in Colorado. The term “mistreatment” will most certainly be defined differently by different people. What some may consider to be acceptable behavior, others may consider to be barbaric and criminal.

For example, take spanking. For some, spanking is an integral part of their systems of punishment for children. They dole out corporal penalties to inspire fear and control behavior. Others, however, view corporal punishment as physical abuse that is unjustified in every way. Unfortunately for the first group, corporal punishment fits snuggly within the criminal child abuse statute in Colorado.

If you are dealing with child abuse charges or other related issues, call 720-445-9887 today. Let defense attorney Kevin Cahill and his team protect you from the state and safeguard your future.

Is Child Abuse a Felony or a Misdemeanor in Colorado?

In Colorado, child abuse can be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor. Both are serious, but felony charges are much more severe. To be charged with a misdemeanor for child abuse, the abuse must not result in a serious injury to the child. If a child is seriously injured or dies, the alleged offender will face felony charges, the degree of which depends on the circumstances.

Child Murder

An offender who abuses a child to death will face first-degree murder charges if:

  • The child was 11 years old or younger
  • The offender was in a position or role of trust over the child
  • The offender knowingly caused the child’s death.

This is the highest level of culpability in child abuse cases and can result in a term of life behind bars.

Reckless Death of a Child

Recklessly or knowingly abusing a child to death is the next level of culpability. Although not considered as serious as murder, it still carries significant criminal consequences and leads to a Colorado class 2 felony on your record.

Reckless deaths are unintentional, for the most part. However, reckless actions are considered highly culpable because they significantly increase the risk of death, even when death is not intended. For example, most street drag racers probably do not wish to kill anyone. Yet, street drag racing is so dangerous that anyone would know of the increased risk of serious bodily injury or death, especially when many people are around.

Negligent Death of a Child

Negligence is a lesser degree of culpability than recklessness and involves a failure of safety or care. It typically involves people in positions of trust who are responsible for providing for children’s basic needs. For example, a parent might fail to provide adequate nourishment or shelter, and that could lead to malnutrition or exposure and ultimately death. This may be considered negligence. A charge at this level is filed as a class 3 felony.

Serious Bodily Injury

Serious bodily injury occurs when a person experiences an injury that carries with it a high risk of death or permanent disfigurement or disability. If knowing or reckless child abuse results in serious bodily injury, the resulting child abuse charge will be a class 3 felony. For negligent actions, the charge will be a class 4 felony.

Misdemeanor Child Abuse Charges

Misdemeanor child abuse charges are possible in Colorado when no serious injury befalls the child. Misdemeanor charges bring much lighter penalties, including no prison time and lighter fines. Jail time, however, is typically required.

Keep in mind that prior convictions for child abuse can exacerbate your situation. If you have a prior conviction for child abuse anywhere in the U.S. and its territories, you can be charged with a class 5 felony instead of a misdemeanor.

At the Law Office of Kevin Cahill, we challenge the state’s case at every stage of the prosecution to get you an optimal resolution to your case.

Collateral Repercussions

Child abuse convictions invariably come with hefty collateral consequences. With a child abuse conviction, your work and professional relationships could suffer significantly. Jobs requiring interactions with children will likely be off-limits, as will most jobs requiring the public’s trust.

You may also face overwhelming issues obtaining housing. Your conviction, which will come up during a standard housing background check, might disqualify you from the applicant pool of many locations for rent. If your conviction is not more than five years old, landlords can consider it while reviewing your application. However, most convictions over five years old are off limits.

Speak With an Experienced Child Abuse Charge Defense Lawyer Today

Effective Protection From the State

You are likely well aware of the seriousness of child abuse charges, whether misdemeanors or felonies. If law enforcement in Colorado has charged you with child abuse, prepare for the state to seek strict penalties. Reach out to an experienced defense attorney as soon as possible. The sooner you do, the better for your defense.

If you have been charged with a child abuse crime, your future is at stake. Put in a call as soon as possible to Kevin Cahill and his team for an effective, robust defense against the state. Call 720-445-9887 to schedule a free consultation today.

The Help You Need

Request your FREE consultation and get the help you need to move forward.

    1385 South Colorado Blvd. Suite A-720
    Denver, CO 80222

    Denver Criminal Defense Divider