Dan Murphy
By: Dan Murphy

Could You Be Charged With Child Endangerment?

Have you left a child home or in a car while you dash into a store? Have you left drugs, alcohol, or a weapon within a child’s reach? In Colorado, you could be charged with child endangerment, and if that happens, you must contact a Denver child abuse defense attorney immediately.

What constitutes child endangerment in the State of Colorado? How can you fight a child endangerment charge? What are the penalties for someone who is convicted of child endangerment in this state?

Understanding Colorado’s child abuse and child endangerment laws can be quite challenging. Keep reading for the answers you may need – now or in the future.

When Can Someone Be Charged With Child Endangerment?

A child endangerment charge is an allegation that a child was placed in a dangerous or life-threatening situation or any situation where that child might be injured. Hinging on the details of the incident, child endangerment may be charged as a felony or as a misdemeanor.

To convict someone of child endangerment, the state has to prove that the defendant, knowingly and intentionally, placed a child in a situation where the child was threatened and could be harmed. If the state proves this claim, the defendant will be found guilty of child endangerment.

There is no law that prevents a parent from leaving a child alone for a brief period of time, but if a child is left alone and then harmed or injured, law enforcement may investigate the incident to determine if a child endangerment charge is warranted.

What Does the Law Say?

A person commits child abuse or child endangerment in Colorado if he or she:

  1. causes an injury to a child’s health or life
  2.  allows a child to be placed in a circumstance that poses a threat of injury or harm to the child’s health or life
  3.  engages in a continued pattern of conduct that results in a lack of medical care, malnourishment, mistreatment, or cruel punishment
  4.  engages in a continued pattern of conduct that ultimately results in a child’s serious bodily injury or death

What Are Some Real-Life Examples of Child Endangerment?

A number of actions could be considered child endangerment in Colorado. While there is no specific law against leaving a child in a car, for example, if a child is injured or dies while left in a car, a child endangerment charge will probably be filed against the adult who left the child.

In 2021, a Colorado mother, Michaela Harman, was charged with felony child abuse in the death of her three-year-old daughter. The mother was outside of the home smoking a cigarette when her daughter was shot and killed by her seven-year-old son. She realized too late that she had left a loaded shotgun where the children could reach it.

Every child endangerment case is unique, so if you are charged with child endangerment in this state, you must be represented by a Denver child abuse defense lawyer who will provide you with personalized legal advice and explain how the law applies in your own situation.

What Do the Courts Consider in Child Endangerment Cases?

Unlike specific drug or theft charges, child endangerment – in many cases – is more of a judgment call and more subject to interpretation.

If you’re charged with child endangerment in Colorado, the court will take into account the answers to these questions:

  1.  How old was the child? What was the child’s maturity level?
  2.  For how long was the child alone?
  3.  Why was the child alone?
  4.  Does the defendant have any previous record of child abuse or endangering a child?

What Are the Penalties for a Child Endangerment Conviction?

The penalties for a child endangerment conviction in Colorado range from a fine for a Class 3 misdemeanor conviction to a lengthy prison term for a felony conviction. If the defendant has previous convictions, his or her sentence, in most cases, will be even harsher.

However, sometimes a child endangerment charge is based on a misunderstanding, and some claims of child endangerment are fabricated. While divorcing, for instance, a parent sometimes fabricates a charge of child endangerment to gain an edge in the divorce proceeding.

Whether you’re not guilty or you merely made a bad judgment call, if you’re charged with child endangerment in or near the greater Denver area, you must contact a Denver child abuse defense attorney immediately.

If you’re facing a child endangerment charge that has been fabricated, a Denver child abuse defense lawyer will work aggressively to uncover the truth and to determine what actually happened.

Driving Under the Influence With a Child

If you are charged with driving under the influence (DUI) in Colorado and a child under the age of 16 was a passenger, you will probably also face a child endangerment charge for placing the child in a dangerous situation.

If there’s no accident or injury, in most cases, DUI-based child endangerment is charged as a misdemeanor, but if a passenger under age 16 is injured or killed because of driving under the influence, the defendant may face a felony child endangerment charge along with a DUI charge.

If you’re currently charged with child endangerment, or if this happens to you, how can you find an attorney you can trust with your freedom and your future? How do you choose an experienced, knowledgeable defense lawyer who routinely wins favorable outcomes for clients?

Attorney Daniel M. Murphy Will Fight for You

Cases that involve children can generate strong emotions, and even if you’re entirely innocent, a child endangerment charge can be difficult to fight. You must be represented by a defense lawyer who will protect your rights while fighting aggressively and effectively on your behalf.

Award-winning Denver criminal defense attorney Daniel M. Murphy seeks the best outcome for his clients, whether that means having the charges dismissed, negotiating an acceptable plea bargain, or taking your case to trial and asking a jury to find you not guilty.

Daniel M. Murphy brings more than twenty-five years of criminal defense experience – and success – to every client and case. If you are charged with child abuse or child endangerment in Denver or anywhere in the state, immediately call the offices of Daniel M. Murphy at 303-996-8998, and get the help you need.

Our phones are answered 24/7, and your first consultation with attorney Daniel M. Murphy is offered with no charge or obligation.

Dan Murphy
By: Dan Murphy

Denver criminal defense lawyer Daniel M. Murphy provides clients in the Denver area with aggressive and sympathetic legal representation. He graduated from the University of Denver Law School in 1994 and worked as a public defender before starting his own practice in 1996. He has defended clients accused of the most difficult criminal and alcohol-related charges. He also serves as a Moot Court Judge for Denver-area law students who rely on his mentorship.