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Colorado’s Child Abuse Mandatory Reporters Law Changed – Does NOT Include Adults

by Colorado Criminal Defense Lawyer – Attorney for the defense of child abuse cases – H. Michael Steinberg

Mandatory Reporters in the state of Colorado are required to report all instances of child abuse or suspected child abuse immediately.

Left open was a question - before a modification was passed – was why the law failed to address the issue of suspected adult survivors of child abuse. That is, whether these same mandatory reporters are required to report child abuse – especially sexual abuse – that occurred to adults when they were children.

That confusion no longer exists.  

Colorado-Child-Abuse-Mandatory-Reporters
Colorado Child Abuse Mandatory Reporters Law

The Old Colorado Child Abuse Mandatory Reporting Law – The Requirement that Certain Persons Report Child Abuse or Neglect (C.R.S. 19-3-304)

The statute was,

“…any person specified in subsection (2) of this section who has reasonable cause to know or suspect that a child has been subjected to abuse or neglect or who has observed the child being subjected to circumstances or conditions which would reasonably result in abuse or neglect shall immediately upon receiving such information report or cause a report to be made of such fact to the county department or local law enforcement agency.”

Under a broad interpretation of Colorado Revised Statute 13-3-304, adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse could and did have their cases reported to the authorities without their consent.

The New Colorado Child Abuse Mandatory Reporters Law

The new law additionally clarifies that mandatory reporters (as defined in C.R.S. 19-3-304) must make a report regarding an adult’s disclosure of childhood abuse under the following conditions:

• If the mandatory reporter has reasonable cause to know or suspect that the perpetrator of the suspected abuse or neglect has subjected any other child currently under eighteen years of age to abuse or neglect or to circumstances or conditions that would likely result in abuse or neglect; or

• If the alleged perpetrator is currently in a position of trust, as defined in section 18-3- 401 (3.5), C.R.S., with regard to any child currently under eighteen years of age.

This statutory change in no way requires mandatory reporters to investigate or make further inquiry regarding the status of alleged perpetrators. The revision means that any disclosure by an adult survivor that does not include information indicating that a child is currently in danger, that the perpetrator is currently in a position of trust, or that otherwise gives reasonable cause to know or suspect a child is currently at risk, must remain confidential pursuant to C.R.S. 13-90-107, which protects communication with certain immunity.

In a nutshell the law clarifies that a mandatory report to law enforcement and/or the Department of Human Services does not apply if the victim is currently 18 years or older… thus indicating that its purpose is to protect individuals who are presently children. The mandatory reporting law is designed to give adult reporting voices to children whom we have reasonable cause to believe are the subject of abuse.

Why The Change Makes Sense

It is common for survivors to wait until adulthood to seek professional support. If mandatory reporters are required to report abuse disclosed to them by an adult client, these same people – seeking help and NOT wishing to prosecute these cases – may be deterred from receiving vital support services. Also these victims can potentially experience increased trauma from being forced to report an incident.  Adults will now be able to obtain support services without the intimidation and fear associated with the repercussions of an unwanted investigation.

The Colorado Mandatory Reporting Law remains the same for suspected child abuse.

Current law, 19-3-304 specifies that any mandatory reporter who has reasonable cause to know or suspect that a child has been subjected to abuse or neglect or who has observed the child being subjected to circumstances or conditions which would reasonably result in abuse or neglect shall immediately make a report.

Restatement of The Existing Laws on Colorado Mandatory Reporters of Child Abuse

Who Can and – Is Required To – Report Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect in Colorado? 

Any person who has a reasonable suspicion of child abuse or neglect can make a report to Child Protective Services or law enforcement.  CRS 19-3-309 states that, “Any person, other than the perpetrator, complicitor, coconspirator, or accessory, participating in good faith in the making of a report…shall be immune from any liability, civil or criminal, or termination of employment that otherwise might result by reason of such acts of participation, unless a court of competent jurisdiction determines that such person’s behavior was willful, wanton, and malicious.” 

In other words, if you make a report of suspected child abuse and/or neglect in good faith, you will not have any civil or criminal liability resulting from the report unless you were a perpetrator or took part in some way in the abuse or neglect.  In addition, you cannot be fired from your job.  This civil and criminal immunity does not hold true for an individual who knowingly makes a false report of child abuse or neglect for malicious reason

The Colorado Mandatory Child Abuse Reporters Law

Colorado law has determined that individuals working within certain fields are required by law to report suspected child abuse and/or neglect.  These individuals are called Mandatory Reporters.  CRS 19-3-304(2) gives a list of these mandatory reporters, including:

Physicians

Child Health Associate

Medical Examiner or Coroner

Dentist

Osteopath

Optometrist

Chiropractor

Chiropodist or Podiatrist

RN or LPN

Hospital Personnel engaged in admission, care or treatment

Christian Science Practitioner

Public or Private School Official or Employee

Social Worker or DHS Case Manager

Licensed Child Care Provider

Mental Health Professional

Dental Hygienist

Psychologist

Physical Therapist

Veterinarian

Peace Officer

Pharmacist

Commercial Film Processor

Firefighter

Victim’s Advocate

Licensed Professional Counselor

Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist

Unlicensed Psychotherapist

Clergy Member

Registered Dietitian

State Dept. of Human Services Worker

Juvenile Parole & Probation Officers

Child & Family Investigators

Animal Control & Animal Protection Officers 

Some Comparative Child Abuse Reporting Laws In Other States

Approximately 48 States, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands designate professions whose members are mandated by law to report child maltreatment.1 Individuals designated as mandatory reporters typically have frequent contact with children.

Some other professions frequently mandated across the States include commercial film or photograph processors (in 11 States, Guam, and Puerto Rico), substance abuse counselors (in 14 States), and probation or parole officers (in 17 States).

Film processors are mandated reporters in Alaska, California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Missouri, Oklahoma, and South Carolina. Substance abuse counselors are required to report in Alaska, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. Probation or parole officers are mandated reporters in Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.

Seven States and the District of Columbia include domestic violence workers on the list of mandated reporters, while seven States and the District of Columbia include animal control or humane officers.

Domestic violence workers are mandated reporters in Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, and South Dakota. Humane officers are mandated reporters in California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Ohio, Virginia, and West Virginia

Court-appointed special advocates are mandatory reporters in nine States.

Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Maine, Montana, Oregon, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Members of the clergy now are required to report in 26 States.

Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. For more information,

see Child Welfare Information Gateway’s Clergy as Mandatory Reporters of Child Abuse and Neglect 

Colorado’s Complete Statute On Child Abuse Mandatory Reporters

CRS 19-3-304(1) states that when a mandatory reporter has reasonable cause to know or suspect that a child has been subjected to abuse or neglect, or has observed the child being subjected to circumstances or conditions which would reasonably result in abuse or neglect, he or she is to immediately report the information to local Child Protective Services or law enforcement.  The mandatory reporter is to follow the verbal report promptly with a written report.    

CRS 19-3-304(4) states that any person who is a mandatory reporter and does not report child abuse and/or neglect to Child Protective Services or law enforcement can be charged with a class 3 misdemeanor and can be held liable for damages proximately caused by failing to report.

Please call our law firm if you have questions about ..

Child Abuse Mandatory Reporters

H. Michael Steinberg has been a Colorado criminal law specialist attorney for 30 years (as of 2012). For the First 13 years of his career, he was an Arapahoe – Douglas County District Attorney Senior  prosecutor. In 1999 he formed his own law firm for the defense of Colorado criminal cases.

In addition to handling tens of thousands of cases in the trial courts of Colorado, he has written hundreds of articles regarding the practice of Colorado criminal law and frequently provides legal analysis on radio and television, appearing on the Fox News Channel, CNN and Various National and Local Newspapers and Radio Stations.  Please call him at your convenience at 720-220-2277

If you have questions about Colorado Child Abuse Mandatory Reporters in the Denver metropolitan area and throughout Colorado, attorney H. Michael Steinberg will be pleased to answer those questions and to provides quality legal representation to those charged in Colorado adult and juvenile criminal matters.

In the Denver metropolitan area and throughout Colorado, attorney H. Michael Steinberg provides quality legal representation to those charged in Colorado adult and juvenile criminal matters as regards Child Abuse Mandatory Reporters.

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___________________________
H. Michael Steinberg Esq.
Attorney and Counselor at Law
The Colorado Criminal Defense Law Firm of H. Michael Steinberg
A Denver, Colorado Lawyer Focused Exclusively On
Colorado Criminal Law For Over 30 Years.
The Edward Building
8400 East Prentice Avenue - Suite 420
Greenwood Village, Colorado 80111
Primary Web Site:  http://www.HMichaelSteinberg.com
Colorado Criminal Law Blog:  www.Colorado-Criminal-Lawyer-Online.com
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