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CRS 18-3-304 — Colorado Violation of Custody Order or Order Relating to Parental Responsibilities

Colorado Springs Violation of Custody Order Lawyer

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Colorado Statute CRS 18-3-304, known as a violation of custody order or order relating to parental responsibilities, is a Class 5 Felony punishable by up to three years in prison and/or a fine up to $100,000. It is defined as unlawfully removing or enticing a child from their parent or legal guardian’s custody.

 

Penalties for Violation of Custody Order or Order Relating to Parental Responsibilities in Colorado

A violation of a custody order or order relating to parental responsibilities is parental kidnapping. Under Colorado law, it is a felony offense, and charges can be enhanced if the child was removed from the country. Here’s how kidnapping charges are penalized.

 

Charge Classification Penalties
Violating of Custody Order or Order Relating to Parental Responsibilities Felony
    • Class 5 Felony: 1-3 years in prison and/or a fine up to $100,000
  • Class 4 Felony: 2-6 years in prison and/or a fine up to $500,000
(Colo. Rev. Stat. § § 18-3-304.)

Here Is What The Prosecution Must Prove to Convict You

The elements of the crime of violation of custody (taking or enticing) are:

  1. That the defendant, whether or not he [she] was a natural or foster parent of the child,
  2. in the State of Colorado, at or about the date and place charged,
  3. knowing that he [she] had no privilege to do so or heedless in that regard,
  4. took or enticed any child, under the age of eighteen, from the custody or care of the child’s parents, guardian, or other lawful custodian or person with parental responsibilities with respect to the child.
  5. If there is an affirmative defense raised, the prosecution must also prove that the defendant’s conduct was not legally authorized by the affirmative defense.

The elements of the crime of violation of custody (violating a court order) are:

  1. That the defendant, whether or not he [she] was a natural or foster parent of the child,
  2. in the State of Colorado, at or about the date and place charged,
  3. violated an order of any district or juvenile court of this state, granting the custody of a child or parental responsibilities with respect to a child under the age of eighteen to any person, agency, or institution
  4. with the intent,
  5.  to deprive the lawful custodian or person with parental responsibilities of the custody or care of a child under the age of eighteen.
  6. If there is an affirmative defense raised, the prosecution must also prove that the defendant’s conduct was not legally authorized by the affirmative defense.

Possible Defenses for Violation of Custody Order or Order Relating to Parental Responsibilities in Colorado

The penalties are steep for parental kidnapping in Colorado. Still, the prosecution must prove you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt before a conviction can occur.

The elements required to establish a violation of custody order or parental responsibilities order include:

  • You knowingly took or enticed a minor from their parent or legal guardian
  • You did not have the privilege to remove the child from the parent or legal guardian’s care
  • You had the intent to keep or conceal the child from their parent or legal guardian

With that in mind, a Colorado criminal defense attorney may be able to help you get your charges dismissed or reduced by using the following defenses:

  • You believed that your conduct was necessary to protect the child from danger to their welfare
  • The child was age 14 or older, and you took the child at their own instigation without the intent to commit a crime
  • You had the legal right to take the child
  • You did not intend to deprive the parent or guardian of custody
  • You did not know you did not have a legal right to take the child

When you’re facing a violation of a custody order or order relating to parental responsibilities, you have the right to a strong defense. Put experience on your side by contacting a Colorado criminal defense attorney for help with your case.

Colorado Revised Statutes, CRS 18-3-304:

(1) Except as otherwise provided in subsection (2.5) of this section, any person, including a natural or foster parent, who, knowing that he or she has no privilege to do so or heedless in that regard, takes or entices any child under the age of eighteen years from the custody or care of the child’s parents, guardian, or other lawful custodian or person with parental responsibilities with respect to the child commits a class 5 felony.

 (2) Except as otherwise provided in subsection (2.5) of this section, any parent or other person who violates an order of any district or juvenile court of this state, granting the custody of a child or parental responsibilities with respect to a child under the age of eighteen years to any person, agency, or institution, with the intent to deprive the lawful custodian or person with parental responsibilities of the custody or care of a child under the age of eighteen years, commits a class 5 felony.

 (2.5) Any person who, in the course of committing the offenses described in subsections (1) and (2) of this section, removes a child under the age of eighteen years from this country commits a class 4 felony.

 (3) It shall be an affirmative defense either that the offender reasonably believed that his conduct was necessary to preserve the child from danger to his welfare, or that the child, being at the time more than fourteen years old, was taken away at his own instigation without enticement and without purpose to commit a criminal offense with or against the child.

 (4) Any criminal action charged pursuant to this section may be tried in either the county where the act is committed or in which the court issuing the orders granting custody or allocating parental responsibilities is located, if such court is within this state.

 (5) Repealed by Laws 1986, H.B.1225, § 1.

Have you been charged or arrested for violating a custody order or order relating to parental responsibilities in Colorado Springs or El Paso County?

First things first, you should know what you’re up against. A violation of a custody or parental responsibilities order is a felony kidnapping charge. A conviction could mean spending the next few years of your life in prison. When your freedom is on the line, you need an experienced Colorado criminal defense lawyer to see you through to the other side. At Right Law Group, we can help you better understand the charges, penalties, and possible defense strategies to minimize or eliminate the consequences.

Contact our law firm today to discuss your case.

Don’t let one wrong decision impact your life, job or freedom.

Call today for a free case evaluation.

Colorado criminal procedure

  • Arrest or
    Summons
    01

    Arrest or
    Summons

    The process begins with either an arrest or a summons. The accused is either arrested or served with paperwork summoning them to appear in court. During an arrest, Miranda rights may or may not be read to you. Officers are only required to recite your rights if they intend to question you about potentially incriminating things.

  • Bond Hearing
    02

    Bond Hearing

    In most cases, you're entitled to have a reasonable bond set after you've been arrested. In situations involving domestic violence, the police will request input from the victim before setting a bond. Bonds are set to ensure that a person appears in court at their court dates. If they don’t show up, they forfeit the money that was paid for the bond.

  • Advisement of
    Charges
    03

    Advisement of
    Charges

    Whether you are arrested or given a summons to appear, the court must make sure you understand what crimes you are being accused of committing. This is called advisement of charges. The District Attorney will detail the specific charges against you, and the Judge has to make sure you understand what possible penalties are associated with that charge in the state.

  • Preliminary Hearing
    (for Higher Felony
    Charges)
    04

    Preliminary Hearing
    (for Higher Felony
    Charges)

    A preliminary hearing is a way for your defense attorney to challenge the District Attorney’s right to bring charges against you by making them prove that there is reason to believe you committed a crime. The Judge is not deciding your guilt or innocence, but rather whether or not there is probable cause to charge you with the crime in question.

  • Pretrial Conference /
    Disposition
    Hearing
    05

    Pretrial Conference /
    Disposition
    Hearing

    This court date comes after your attorney has reviewed all of the reports and evidence in your case. Here’s where your attorney will engage in plea negotiations with the DA. If they can reach an agreement on the case, you may be able to take a plea bargain. If they cannot reach a resolution, your case will be set for an arraignment or trial date.

  • Arraignment
    06

    Arraignment

    An arraignment is the final date for you to decide how you choose to plea. Guilty or not guilty. If you plead guilty, then the case is set for a sentencing date. If you plead not guilty, you and your attorney will then set the case for trial.

  • Motions Hearing
    07

    Motions Hearing

    A motion hearing is when an attorney makes a request that requires a decision from the judge. For example, motions to suppress evidence or statements. These motions can limit the information that goes before a jury if it benefits your case, and there are legal grounds for doing so.

  • Pretrial Readiness
    Conference
    08

    Pretrial Readiness
    Conference

    A pretrial readiness conference is held at some point before trial. It usually is held about a week to a month before the date trial is set to begin. This court date ensures everyone is ready to go to trial on the set date. It is also a time for lawyers to bring up any issues they may have to be addressed before the day of trial.

  • Jury Trial
    09

    Jury Trial

    After a jury is selected for trial, the District Attorney’s responsibility is to present the case to the jury. The DA must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty of the crime. Otherwise, the jury must find you innocent. Your attorney will be able to cross-examine all of the witnesses, present evidence, and ultimately help you navigate this process.

  • Sentencing
    Date
    10

    Sentencing
    Date

    At sentencing, the Judge must decide the appropriate legal penalty for the crime you plead guilty. The Judge’s decision is based on the listed penalties for the specific charge, recommendations from the presentence investigation, your criminal history, as well as statements made at the sentencing by the District Attorney, your attorney, you, and any named victims of the crime.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a parent take a child out of state without the other parent's consent in Colorado?

A parent with primary custody of a child has the right to remove the child from the state without the other parent’s consent. However, the noncustodial parent also reserves the right to petition the court to prohibit the child’s removal, but they cannot remove the child from the state without the court’s permission.

What is parental kidnapping in Colorado?

Parental kidnapping happens when a noncustodial parent unlawfully takes the child without the knowledge or consent of the custodial parent. Under Colorado law, taking a child without consent is kidnapping, regardless of whether the abductor is the child’s parent. Parental kidnapping is a felony charge worthy of hefty penalties.