Colorado Mandatory Reporting Laws - CRS 12-36-135

CRS 12-36-135 is the Colorado statute that defines the crime of mandatory injury reporting. Certain people in Colorado have to report certain injuries to law enforcement. If they do not make these reports, they can face a criminal charge under CRS 12-36-135. Failure to report an injury covered by the statute is a Class 2 petty offense.

Colorado's mandatory injury reporting law covers doctors and other physicians in the state. The law requires them to report injuries caused by suspected crimes to local police. It also immunizes them from lawsuits for making these reports.

Examples of mandatory injury reporting under CRS 12-36-135 include:

  • Cheryl is an emergency room surgeon. Zeke is rushed to the emergency room with a gunshot wound. Zeke refuses to say how he got shot.
  • Beatrice is a physician's assistant at a doctor's office. One of their regular patients schedules an emergency appointment. He has a serious dog bite wound that he claims was from a new neighbor's pit bull.
  • Nicola is a primary care physician for children. During a physical exam of a young girl, Nicola notices bruises and other signs of abuse.

People accused of failure to report an injury under CRS 12-36-135 have several legal defenses. Common defenses raised against these charges include:

  • They are not mandatory injury reporters under the statute,
  • The injury was not covered by the law, and
  • The injury was not likely the result of a crime.

Violations of the mandatory injury reporting law in Colorado are Class 2 petty offenses. These come with the following penalties:

  • A fine of up to $300, and
  • Up to 90 days in jail.

Doctors can also face problems with their license if they do not report an injury.

In this article, our Colorado criminal defense attorneys will discuss:

physician looking at xray

1. What is mandatory injury reporting under CRS 12-36-135?

CRS 12-36-135 is Colorado's mandatory injury reporting law. It requires certain medical professionals to report suspicious injuries to police. It also protects doctors from a lawsuit for making these reports.

1.1. What medical professionals are covered by the law?

CRS 12-36-135 covers “licensees.” A licensee means any of the following people licensed to practice medicine in Colorado:

  • A physician,
  • A physician's assistant, or
  • An anesthesiologist's assistant who is licensed.1

Anyone who is not licensed to practice medicine in Colorado is not subject to CRS 12-36-135.

1.2. What injuries have to be reported?

Colorado's mandatory injury reporting law only covers certain kinds of injuries. They include:

  • Gunshot wounds that seem to be intentional,
  • Stab wounds that seem to be intentional,
  • Dog bite injuries that seem to be caused by dangerous dogs, and
  • Any other injury reasonably believed to have been caused by a crime.

However, injuries from suspected domestic violence do not have to be reported if:

  • They are neither gunshot nor stab wounds nor dog bites, and
  • The injuries are not serious.

Domestic violence victims over 18 years old can also ask a doctor not to report their injuries.

Doctors have to take extra steps when the injury seems to be from domestic violence. They have to refer a victim to a domestic violence support agency.

1.3. What kinds of dog bites need to be reported?

Among the injuries that have to be reported under CRS 12-36-135(1)(a)(I)(b) are certain dog bites. However, the law does not list the dog breeds that are covered. Instead, the law requires injuries to be reported if the bite was caused by a “dangerous dog.”

“Dangerous dogs” are those that:

  • Hurt people or other animals,
  • Have tendencies that suggest it would hurt people or animals, or
  • Engages in dog fights or is trained to fight other dogs.2
colorado attorneys hard at work

2. What legal defenses can be raised against a charge of violating CRS 12-36-135?

Medical professionals charged with a violation of CRS 12-36-135 have several legal defenses. These include:

  • They are not covered by the statute,
  • The injury was not covered by the statute,
  • The victim asked them not to report the injury, and
  • They did not reasonably believe the injury was the result of a crime.

2.1. You are not covered by the statute

CRS 12-36-135 only covers certain medical professionals. If you are not one of the following:

  • Physician,
  • Physician's assistant, or
  • Anesthesiologist's assistant.

Then you are not a mandatory reporter under the law. If you are not a mandatory reporter, you cannot violate the mandatory injury reporting law.

2.2. The injury is not covered by the statute

CRS 12-36-135 only covers a small set of injuries. If you are being accused of violating CRS 12-36-135, the prosecutor has to prove it was one of these injuries. The prosecutor has to prove this element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.

2.3. The victim does not want the injury reported

Colorado's mandatory injury reporting statute allows adult victims of domestic violence to ask a doctor not to report their injuries in some situations. If the victim makes this request, it can be a strong legal defense to a charge under CRS 12-36-135.

Under CRS 12-36-135(1)(a)(I)(C), this legal defense requires several things:

  • The victim is at least 18 years old,
  • The injury seems to be the result of domestic violence,
  • The injury is not a gunshot or a stab wound that would otherwise require reporting, and
  • The victim asks that the injury not be reported.

You then have to note the victim's request in their medical record.

2.4. You did not think the injury was the result of a crime

If the injury was not a gunshot or stab wound or a dog bite, it only has to be reported if there is reason to believe it was the result of a crime. If you did not believe the injury was the result of a crime and that belief is reasonable, it could be a strong defense to a charge under CRS 12-36-135.

3. What are the penalties of a conviction for failing to report an injury?

Violating Colorado's mandatory injury reporting law under CRS 12-36-135 is a Class 2 petty offense. The penalties for a conviction include:

  • A maximum fine of $300, and
  • A maximum jail sentence of 90 days.

However, a conviction for failure to report an injury can put a blemish on a doctor's record. This can make it difficult to get a job or professional license in the future.

4. Offenses related to mandatory injury reporting

There are several offenses related to failing to report an injury under CRS 12-36-135. Some of them include:

Call us for Help...

If you've been charged with a crime in Colorado and are seeking legal representation, contact our Denver Colorado criminal defense attorneys for help. You may also be interested in reading our article on mandatory reporting laws in California.

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Call us for help at 303-222-0330

References:

  1. C.R.S. § 12-36-102.5(7).

  2. C.R.S. § 18-9-204.5(2)(b).

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