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 $1,000. In this article, our Colorado criminal defense lawyers will address:
- 1. What is harboring a minor?
- 2. What are the penalties for harboring a minor in Colorado?
- 3. What are the defenses in Colorado for harboring a minor?
- 4. Related Offenses
Also see our related article on the Colorado crime of permitting an unauthorized minor to drive.
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.
Harboring a minor is a class 2 misdemeanor. A conviction for harboring a minor in Colorado carries penalties of up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. 2
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. 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
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.
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.
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.
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 is 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. Our caring Colorado defense attorneys have many years of experience representing clients who have been charged with criminal offenses. We are among the best Colorado criminal defense attorneys to call. Contact us today at our Denver law office or via telephone for a free consultation.
- C. R. S. 18-6-601(1)(a)
- C. R. S. 18-6-601(2)
- C. R. S. 18-6-601(1)(b)
- C. R. S. 18-6-601(1)(c)