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2-year-old found in car, mother charged with felony child abuse

Child abuse in Colorado is a complex and serious criminal offense. It can be a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the egregiousness of the abuse and the resulting degree of injury to the child. In a recent arrest in the Denver area, the police have charged a 26-year-old mother with felony child abuse for leaving her 2-year-old boy in her car unattended.

The child is being treated for hypothermia and frostbite. Police found the boy in a snow-covered car in a parking lot in the Denver area. They had been looking for the vehicle after reports of it being involved in an accident.

Mysteriously, there is no word from the authorities as to why the woman would leave her child in a cold car after being involved in an accident. They did announce that they had arrested her on suspicion of felony child abuse and were questioning her. Child abuse under the Colorado statute is generally a felony when the child suffers "serious bodily injury" from the abuse or in cases of death.

Defense attorneys will treat a felony child abuse charge with the seriousness that it deserves. A conviction will most likely result in a term of imprisonment. The parent may also lose custody of the child and face other consequences through the state's child protective services framework.

In this case, the car accident adds a twist not often seen in a child abuse case. Defense counsel will want to determine whether the defendant's degree of consciousness or ability to process reality was affected post-accident. An element of the crime under Colorado law requires that she act with knowledge of what she is doing, but there is at least a possibility that her faculties were damaged from the collision. The seriousness of the injury to the child may also serve to reduce the charge from a felony to a misdemeanor after re-evaluation of the child's medical condition.

Source: fox13now.com, "Colorado mom arrested after 2-year-old found alone in car treated for hypothermia, frostbite", Mark Green, Dec.17, 2016

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