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CHAPTER 6: SELECTED CRIMINAL OFFENSES - Table of Contents

6.1 - Overview6.2 - Inchoate Offenses6.3 - Homicide6.4 - Assault6.5 - Domestic Violence6.6 - Other Unlawful Offenses against the person6.7 - Unlawful Sexual Behavior6.8 - Offenses against Property6.9 - Tresspass, Tampering and Mischief6.10 - Offenses involving Fraud6.11 - Offenses involving Family Relations6.12 - Offenses relating to Morals6.13 - Offenses against Government Operations and Public Order6.14 - Offenses relating to Weapons6.15 - Offenses relating to Controlled Substances6.16 - Alcohol/Drug related Traffic Incidents6.17 - Crimes Against Vulnerable Victims6.18 - Computer Crimes6.19 - Identity Theft

6.11 OFFENSES INVOLVING FAMILY RELATIONS

Article 6 of Title 18 is entitled Offenses Involving the Family Relations, and includes offenses related to abortion, bigamy, incest, child abuse, adultery, harboring a minor, contributing the delinquency of a minor and domestic violence. The special considerations relating to domestic violence cases are addressed in Section 6.5 of this chapter. Bigamy and adultery are so rarely charged that they will not be discussed in this section.

The abortion statute, C.R.S. § 18-6-101, provides that "Any person who intentionally ends or causes to be ended the pregnancy of a woman by any means other than justified medical termination or birth" is guilty of a class 4 felony or, if the woman dies, a class 2 felony. The statute has rarely been enforced in recent years. The phrase 'justified medical termination' is defined in the statute and has been subjected to review by the Colorado Supreme Court. It appears that the phrase means terminations upon the request of a woman who is over eighteen or, if the woman is under eighteen, upon the request of the woman and her parent or guardian or husband, performed by a licensed physician using accepted medical procedures, before sixteen weeks of pregnancy have passed.

Incest is divided into two crimes. Incest, C.R.S. § 18-6-301, occurs when a person marries or subjects to sexual contact an ancestor, descendant, whole or half sibling, or an uncle aunt, niece or nephew of the whole blood. Incest is a class 4 felony. Aggravated incest, C.R.S. § 18-6-302, occurs when a person a) marries or subjects to sexual contact his or her natural child, stepchild or adopted child; or b) marries or subjects to sexual contact a descendant, whole or half sibling, aunt, uncle, niece or nephew who is under ten years old. Aggravated incest is a class 3 felony.

Child abuse is divided into several categories depending upon the degree of injury to the child and the state of mind of the perpetrator. The basic statute, C.R.S. § 18-6-401, provides that a person commits child abuse if the person 1) causes an injury to a child, 2) permits a child to be unreasonably placed in a situation that poses a threat to the child's life or health, or 3) engages in a continuing pattern of conduct that results in malnourishment, lack of medical care, cruel punishment or an accumulation of injuries that results in the death of serious bodily injury to the child. An amendment to the statute also outlaws genital mutilation of children. For the purposes of the child abuse statute, child is defined as a person under sixteen.

The statute goes on to provide that the spousal privilege, which might otherwise prevent one spouse from testifying against the other spouse, is not applicable in child abuse prosecutions. The statute also exempts from civil or criminal liability anyone, other than the actual perpetrator, who reports an instance of child abuse. Finally, the statute purports to exempt from prosecution those cases in which the injuries result from legitimate "treatment through spiritual means by prayer."

As noted, the seriousness of the crime turns on the degree of injury to the child and the state of mind of the actor. In cases of child abuse resulting in death, the offense is a class 2 felony if the defendant acted knowingly or recklessly, and a class 3 felony if the person acted negligently. In cases of child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury, the offense is a class 3 felony if the person acted knowingly or recklessly, and a class 4 felony if the person acted negligently. In cases of child abuse resulting only in bodily injury, the offense is a class 1 misdemeanor if the person acted knowingly or recklessly, and a class 2 misdemeanor if the person acted negligently. In cases of child abuse resulting in no actual injury, the offense is a class 2 misdemeanor if the person acted knowingly or recklessly, and a class 3 misdemeanor if the person acted negligently. There is a special provision for child abuse resulting in death, when committed upon a child under 12, and when committed by a person who was in a position of trust with respect to that child. In this case, the crime is a class 1 felony.

An amendment passed in 2000 provides a safe haven for a parent who turns over to a hospital or firefighter or other similar professional a child who is less than seventy-two hours old. This provision is designed to encourage new mothers who are unable to cope with a child to turn the child over to the proper authorities rather than abandon the child.

There are some special rules relating to the presentation of evidence in child abuse cases, and other cases involving child witnesses. These are discussed in Chapter 13.12.

Harboring a minor, C.R.S. § 18-6-601, is committed when a person knowingly shelters a minor without the consent of the minor's parent or guardian, and fails to release the child to law enforcement upon request, fails to disclose the location of the child upon proper request, obstructs law enforcement from taking the minor into custody, helps the minor avoid being taken into custody or fails to notify the parent or guardian that the minor is being sheltered within twenty-four hours. Harboring a minor is a class 2 misdemeanor.

Contributing to the delinquency of a minor, C.R.S. § 18-6-701, occurs when a person "induces, aids, or encourages a child to violate" any law. For the purposes of this section, "child" means any person under 18. Contributing to the delinquency of a minor is a class 4 felony.

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