Does CO Law State Leaving Your Kids Unattended in Cars Is Child Abuse?

Posted by Joseph Franks on March 10th, 2020

We’ve all heard about children dying in hot cars after parents left them in the car unattended. The cases usually receive national attention. Understandably so. Anything involving a child’s death is terribly tragic and sad.

Is it child abuse when a parent leaves a child unattended in their car?

The short answer: Not on the surface.

Colorado has no exact statute prohibiting parents from leaving their child unattended, in a car, home, or anywhere else. The state should, therefore, assess each case independently to determine if child abuse exists. So if you find yourself into such cases make sure you feel free to contact Criminal Defense Attorney Denver.

Colorado Child Abuse Laws

In Colorado, CRS 18-6-401, in basic terms, states that a parent commits child abuse when they place their child in a situation that jeopardizes the child’s life or engage in a pattern of behavior that seriously injures or kills the child.

When the state considers whether to prosecute a parent for such a situation, prosecutors consider factors such as the child’s age and the child’s injuries. The state also inspects a parent’s actions or intent, using terms such as “knowingly” and “recklessly.”

Penalties for Colorado Child Abuse Convictions

Colorado then organizes sentences and punishments as follows:

  •          First-Degree Murder: life sentence or the death penalty
  •          Class 2 Felony Charges: 8-24 years in prison plus fines up to ,000,000
  •          Conviction of a Class 3 Felony: a 4-16-year prison sentence and 0,000 max fine
  •          Class 4 Felony Conviction: 2-8 years in prison plus up to 0,000 in fines
  •          Class 5 Felony Charges: 1-5 years in prison and a fine of ,000-0,000
  •          Misdemeanors: 3-18 months in jail and a fine of 0-,000

Prosecuting Parents in Colorado

Colorado and other states have prosecuted parents for leaving their children unattended in their cars and causing their deaths. Scientists and experts don’t generally believe parents are actual criminals.

Rather than punish parents, they want to find ways to prevent these tragedies. Parents actually handle public disgrace and criminal consequences better than the lifetime of personal grief and self-loathing.

How Do Parents Leave Their Children Unattended in their Car?

The parents in mostly all of the cases preserve that they forgot that their child was in the car. How is that possible? Specialists theorize that, because much of what we do every day is routine, our brains function mechanically.

Our brains goes “autopilot.”  Fatigue, pressure, or even a simple change in our routine can create dishonest memories. These tragedies most often occur when a parent changes something, such as stopping at a different coffee shop or switching daycare drop-off duties with their spouse.

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Joseph Franks

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Joseph Franks
Joined: September 16th, 2019
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