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HB16-1389

Safety Procedures Photos As Evidence Child Abuse

Concerning safety procedures for children during the collection of photographic evidence of child abuse or neglect.
Session:
2016 Regular Session
Subject:
Children & Domestic Matters
Bill Summary

Current law in the 'Colorado Children's Code' allows certain specified medical professionals and law enforcement officials who reasonably believe a child has been abused or neglected to take or cause to be taken color photographs of the areas of trauma visible on the child so that those photographs may be used as evidence of the child abuse or neglect.

The bill amends the law to more clearly distinguish what parts of the child's body, including private areas, may be photographed and by whom. The bill also creates different standards of conduct for government employees and nongovernmental employees.

Under the bill, a government employee who reasonably believes a child has been abused or neglected may take or cause to be taken color photographs of the areas of trauma or abuse visible in plain sight on the child. 'Visible in plain sight on the child'' is defined as an area of the child's body that is normally viewable by the public and that could be observed visually without removal or rearrangement of the child's clothing. 'Visible in plain sight on the child' does not include a private area of the child. The bill also defines 'private area of the child'. 'Government employee' is defined as a person employed by the government or acting under the color of state law. 'Government' is defined as the state, any county, city and county, municipality, law enforcement agency, and any school district.

If a government employee reasonably believes that a private area of a child suspected of being abused or neglected needs to be examined or photographed as evidence of trauma or abuse or as evidence of the absence of trauma or abuse, the government employee shall not examine, unclothe, or rearrange clothing covering private areas, or ask the child to remove or rearrange his or her clothing covering private areas, and shall not take color photographs of the child unless the government employee has:
  • Obtained the consent of a parent, guardian, or legal custodian of the child or obtained consent from a child who is 15 years of age or older and less than 18 years of age; or
  • Obtained a court order, if the parent, guardian, or legal custodian, or the child, if between the ages of 15 and 18, refuses to give consent, ordering that the child be presented to and examined and evaluated by an independent medical provider, a sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE), or the child's own physician; or
  • A reasonable belief that exigent circumstances exist that constitute a medical emergency, in conjunction with a call to 911, or a reasonable suspicion that the child is in immediate threat of serious bodily injury and that the examination and photographing of the private areas of the child is reasonably necessary to treat or prevent serious bodily injury to the child.

Under the bill, certain medical professionals who are not government employees and who reasonably believe a child has been abused or neglected may take or cause to be taken color photographs of the areas of trauma or abuse visible in plain sight on the child, and may take or cause to be taken color photographs of the private areas of the child if such actions:

  • Are performed for bona fide medical purposes and in a manner that is consistent with reasonable medical practices; or
  • Are performed with the consent of a parent, guardian, or legal custodian of the child, or with the consent of a child who is 15 years of age or older and less than 18 years of age; or
  • Are performed pursuant to a court order, if the parent, guardian, or legal custodian, or the child, if between the ages of 15 and 18, refuses to give consent, ordering that the child be presented to and examined and evaluated by an independent medical provider, a sexual assault nurse examiner, or the child's own physician.

The bill does not prevent a coroner or a medical examiner from taking color photographs of a deceased child in connection with an investigation.

The state board of human services is required to adopt rules that create child safety policies and safeguards applicable to county employees and others who are taking photographs pursuant to the bill relating to the taking of photographs of the private areas of children by county employees, the security and storage of any photographs or digital images of the children, and training regarding how to conduct legal searches and the appropriateness of searches of children.

(Note: This summary applies to this bill as introduced.)

Status

Introduced
Lost

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Bill Text

Sponsors

Sponsor Type Legislators
Prime Sponsor

Rep. J. Joshi

Sponsor

Co-sponsor

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