Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor 18-6-701

Case Hypothetical: A woman gives several diazepam pills to a thirteen-year-old girl who was a visitor at defendant’s apartment. The Defendant testifies at trial that the young girl had misidentified herself as her eighteen-year-old sister and that the defendant had given the victim only some generic ibuprofen tablets at the victim’s request.

The Colorado Crime of Contributing to the delinquency of a minor is defined in 18-6-701(1), C.R.S. follows:

Any person who induces, aids, or encourages a child to violate any federal or state law, municipal or county ordinance, or court order commits contributing to the delinquency of a minor. For the purposes of this section, the term ‘child’ means any person under the age of eighteen years.

While the law does not specify the metal state for the offense of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, the law has interpreted it as “knowingly.” – “Knowingly” generally applies when statute silent about the mental state a person must have to commit a crime.

The Affirmative Defense of Reasonable Belief of the Age of the Victim

Contributing to the Delinquency has an element of the crime that requires the victim to be under the age of eighteen years, (18-3-406(1), C.R.S. ) at the time of the offense

If, however, the defendant reasonably believed the victim to be over the requisite age – of 18, provided that the victim is at least fifteen years old, the law provides a defense called an affirmative defense. The affirmative defense is raised by the defendant – and if accepted by the judge – compels the Prosecutor to disprove the defense beyond a reasonable doubt.making the DAfs job much more difficult.

Under the Age of 15

But, when an element of a crime is that the victim be under the age of fifteen years, there is no defense available based on the defendant’s knowledge or belief as to the age of the victim. Thus, such crimes are strict liability offenses as to that element. 18-3-406(2), C.R.S.1998;

Strict liability means that no matter how the victim has misrepresented herself, the affirmative defense is not available to the defendant… as in the sex crime of statutory rape.

Elements of the Offense of Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor

To find a defendant guilty of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, a judge or jury must find that the defendant had:

  • knowingly,
  • induced, aided, or encouraged,
  • person under the age of 18, [the victim],
  • to violate state law, (in our hypothetical -Unlawful Use of a Controlled Substance….)

If you are charged with the Colorado Crime of Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor – please feel free to contact the law firm of H. Michael Steinberg.

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