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Under Colorado law, harboring or sheltering a minor without the permission of his or her parent or guardian is against the law in certain circumstances. Unlawfully harboring a minor is a class 2 misdemeanor, which may result in time spent in jail and a fine of up to $750. In this article, our Colorado criminal defense lawyers will address:
Under Colorado law, harboring or sheltering a minor without the permission of his or her parent or guardian is against the law in certain circumstances.
1. What is harboring a minor?
In Colorado, an individual is prohibited from harboring a minor without the consent of a parent – or guardian, custodian or person who assumes parental responsibilities over a minor – and has no intentions of cooperating with law enforcement or letting the child leave.
In order to be convicted of the crime of harboring a minor, a prosecutor must prove that the defendant intentionally harbored a minor without authorization, and committed at least one of the following actions:
The defendant failed to release the minor to a law enforcement officer after being requested to do so;
The defendant failed to disclose the location of the minor to a law enforcement officer when requested to do so;
The defendant obstructed a law enforcement officer from taking the minor into custody;
The defendant assisted the minor in avoiding or attempting to avoid the custody of law enforcement; or
The defendant failed to notify a minor’s parent or guardian within 24 hours after shelter has been provided. 1
This law is even applicable even in circumstances where people take a child in with good intentions. In the event that an individual shelters a child that appears to have a difficult home life, for example, he or she could still be charged and convicted of harboring a minor.
For purposes of C. R. S. 18-6-106, a minor is someone who is under the age of 18 years old.
2. What are the penalties for harboring a minor in Colorado?
Harboring a minor is a class 2 misdemeanor. A conviction for harboring a minor in Colorado carries penalties of up to 120 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $750. 2
3. What are the defenses in Colorado for harboring a minor?
The defenses available to charges of harboring a minor will depend on the specific situation. However, Colorado statutes explicitly detail two defenses that are affirmative defenses to charges of harboring a minor.
The shelter provided to a minor is by a state licensed child care facility
Colorado allows licensed child care facilities – such as a homeless youth shelter – to harbor children for a period of time. However, there are limitations to how and how long a state-licensed child care facility can hold a child. The statutory law permits a minor to stay at these facilities for no longer than two weeks after the time a minor was initially admitted. 3
The defendant had custody of the minor or lawful parenting time due to a court order
Any individual who is permitted by the court to have temporary custody of a minor at any time has a defense to criminal charges of harboring a minor in Colorado. 4
4. Related Offenses
There are several other offenses that may be related to criminal charges of harboring a minor. These crimes may include sexual assault on a child, keeping a place of child prostitution, and sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust.
4.1 Sexual Assault on a Child C.R.S. 18-3-405
Subjecting someone who is younger than 15 years old when an actor is at least four years older than an alleged victim to a sexual act is a criminal offense. Sexual assault on a child is a class 3 felony or class 4 felony depending on the nature of a case. This charge limits the accused’s association with minors and even a person’s own children. A conviction for this offense may result in up to 12 years in prison and a fine of up to $750,000.
4.2 Keeping a Place of Child Prostitution C.R.S. 18-7-404
Any person who exercises control over a place in which the practice of a child or by a child ensues is breaking the law in Colorado, and it carries very dire penalties. Keeping a place of child prostitution is a class 3 felony offense, which may result in up to 12 years in prison and a fine of up to $750,000.
4.3 Sexual Assault on A Child by One in a Position of Trust C.R.S. 18-3-401
Any person who is a parent or assumes the responsibility of a parent for a short period of time (babysitter, priest, coach, family member etc.) and abuses the trust of a child to engage in a sexual act with him or her will be charged with this offense. Sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust can be either a class 3 or 4 felony depending on the elements of a case. This crime carries similar penalties to the crimes listed up above, which are up to 12 years in prison and a fine up to $750,000.
Call us for help…
If you have been arrested and charged with harboring a minor, please contact us at the Colorado Legal Defense Group.
C. R. S. 18-6-601(1)(a)
C. R. S. 18-6-601(2). Prior to March 1, 2022, class 2 misdemeanors carried up to one year in jail and a $1,000 in fines. SB21-271.