Child abuse is a serious charge that can come with severe consequences. Your reputation, social standing, and relationships with your family may be jeopardized by even a simple accusation of misconduct or abuse.
Unfortunately, good parents, family members, or caretakers who love and care for their children often are forced to face unfair allegations of abuse. That’s why it is so important to have an experienced attorney on your side to take a stand against these charges that are often false or may be based on inaccurate information or assumptions.
My name is Christian Schwaner, and I can help. As a Colorado Springs criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor, I know how child abuse cases are handled in Colorado from both sides. Together, we can build a strong defense and fight back against the charges that you are facing.
What is “Child Abuse” in Colorado?
Colorado law defines child abuse as acting in a way that “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.” This is a broad definition that includes a number of different acts of which you can be accused.
Here are some examples of how someone might commit child abuse under this definition:
- Causing injury to a child’s health or life
- Placing a child in a situation that poses a danger to their life or health
- Failing to provide proper nourishment and nutrition
- Refusing to provide a child with necessary medical care
- Engaging in a continued pattern of cruel punishment or mistreatment
- Driving while intoxicated with a child in the car
- Allowing a child to be near the manufacture or presence of certain drugs or precursors to illegal narcotics
This is not an exhaustive list of acts that could be interpreted as child abuse; there are many that a person could be accused of. In any case, being charged with any form of child abuse carries a huge threat that demands immediate action.
If you have been accused of any of these or other forms of child abuse, it is important to seek legal assistance from a Colorado Springs child abuse defense attorney as soon as possible so that you can protect yourself from the serious consequences that could follow.
Potential Consequences of a Conviction
Because there are so many different forms of child abuse under Colorado law, there is also a range of penalties for this crime.
The punishment that comes with a conviction varies according to how the child was injured or exploited and whether the defendant was determined to have acted knowingly or recklessly, meaning that they knew their actions would injure the child, or negligently, meaning that they simply failed to do something that could be reasonably expected of someone in their position.
Here are some of the penalties associated with different forms of child abuse in Colorado:
- Knowingly or recklessly causing a child’s death is a class 2 felony carrying a penalty of 8 to 24 years in prison. If the defendant is in “a position of trust” with respect of the child and the child is younger than twelve, this becomes murder in the first degree, a class 1 felony carrying a penalty of life in prison or death.
- Negligently causing a child’s death is a class 3 felony carrying a penalty of 4 to 12 years in prison.
- Knowingly or recklessly causing serious bodily injury to a child is a class 3 felony carrying a penalty of 4 to 12 years in prison.
- Negligently causing serious bodily injury to a child is a class 4 felony carrying a penalty of 2 to 6 years in prison.
- Sexual exploitation of a child is a class 5 felony carrying a penalty of 1 to 3 years in prison. A second or subsequent offense is a class 4 felony carrying a penalty of 2 to 6 years in prison. Anyone who sexually exploits a child must register as a sex offender.
- Knowingly or recklessly causing non-serious injuries to a child is a class 1 misdemeanor carrying a penalty of 6 months to 2 years in jail.
- Negligently causing non-serious injuries to a child is a class 2 misdemeanor carrying a penalty of 3 months to 1 year in jail.
There is quite a range in the penalties for child abuse, running from 3 months in jail to the death penalty. In addition to these penalties, if you are convicted of child abuse, a court may decide to take away your children or may refuse to grant you custody or visitation.
Even if you are not convicted, simply being accused of abuse can cause serious damage to your reputation in your community. It is extremely important to act as quickly as you can and hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer right away to strongly fight back against these allegations to protect your reputation and your livelihood.
Accusations of child abuse are a serious matter that demands to be taken seriously. Fortunately, being accused of child abuse does not automatically mean that you will be convicted. With the right attorney by your side, you can mount a persuasive defense on your behalf to hopefully retain your freedom and right to see your children.
With my background as a criminal defense attorney and a former prosecutor, I know all the ins-and-outs of child abuse cases in Colorado. I will work with you to put together a strong defense against the charges that you are facing. For more information on how I can help, you can contact my office to set up a free consultation, even if you are already being held in jail. For assistance from an experienced Colorado Springs child abuse defense attorney, call Schwaner Law now at (719) 440-6720.