If you have been accused of child abuse or neglect, you could be facing heart-breaking repercussions. Besides the stigma associated with a child abuse or neglect charge; child abuse charges can result in broad repercussions that can include probation, fines, various required classes and evaluations, and even jail. Moreover, when the Department of Human Services (DHS) gets involved, repercussions can go beyond a mere criminal case and can even affect one’s ability to freely parent their own children.
Patterson Weaver is an attorney experienced in defending child abuse and neglect charges and can give you a free consultation regarding your matter. Whether your case is in the counties of El Paso, Pueblo, Teller, Park, Freemont, Elbert, Douglas Chaffee, or the surrounding areas, contact him today for a free consultation.
What Exactly is Child Abuse?
The Colorado Revised Statutes define child abuse in § 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 of injury to the child’s life or health, or engages in a continued pattern of conduct that results in malnourishment, lack of proper medical care, cruel punishment, mistreatment, or an accumulation of injuries that ultimately results in the death of a child or serious bodily injury to a child.” C.R.S. 8-6-401 (2020).
Many different situations can lead to child abuse charges, often to the great surprise of the person charged. Because the statute is so vague, particularly regarding the language for misdemeanor charges, enforcement and charging of child abuse charges is inconsistent and varies by the responding officer and agency. Many well-meaning parents find themselves facing child-abuse charges they did not anticipate. One can find themselves facing child abuse charges for situations ranging from a child actually being physically harmed or neglected by an adult, to a child being simply present during an argument between parents that led to domestic violence charges between the parents, to some officer thinking that a child left home alone was too young to be left home alone or perhaps too young to babysit other children. Unfortunately, in their well-meaning effort to protect children, the Colorado legislature has created a statute so vague that whether it applies or not is often in the eye of the beholder.
Defenses to Allegations of Child Abuse
The child abuse statute does provide a potential affirmative defense in instances where the act in question was physical discipline of a child. Colorado law does not find child abuse when the parent performed “reasonable exercises of parental discipline.” C.R.S. 19-1-103. However, what you, and what law enforcement and the district attorney, feel is “reasonable” may vary greatly. Still, questions regarding proper parenting and discipline are so vague and uncertain that a competent criminal defense attorney can often convince a jury of reasonable doubt, perhaps saving a parent or other person from a damaging conviction.
How Serious is a Child Abuse Charge?
Child abuse and neglect can be charged at various levels, from a misdemeanor to a felony, depending on the severity of the case. Child abuse is a class 2 felony for example, when a person acts knowingly or recklessly which results in the death of a child. But even where no death or even injury results, one may still be charged with child abuse as a class 2 misdemeanor.
Professional Impact of Child Abuse Charges
While facing child abuse and neglect charges is serious for anyone, such a charge can have even more dire consequences for members of some professions. If one works with children or in a medical field, in particular, child abuse charges may not only have personally dire legal consequences, but professionally dire as well. While it is important for anyone facing child abuse or neglect charges to retain competent legal representation, individuals that work with children or in medicine in particular should hire a competent lawyer to help them as soon as possible.
Call Child Abuse Attorney Patterson Weaver Today
Although the varied reasons for receiving a child abuse charge are many, one should never face a child abuse charge alone. A qualified and experienced criminal defense lawyer can protect your rights and help ensure you receive a favorable outcome in your case. Child abuse and neglect defense lawyer Patterson Weaver works hard to make sure that each client gets the best outcome possible in their particular situation. Call attorney Patterson Weaver today for a free consultation.