Conn. Gen. Stat. § 53-21

Current with legislation from 2024 effective through June 5, 2024.
Section 53-21 - Injury or risk of injury to, or impairing morals of, children. Sale of children
(a) Any person who (1) wilfully or unlawfully causes or permits any child under the age of sixteen years to be placed in such a situation that the life or limb of such child is endangered, the health of such child is likely to be injured or the morals of such child are likely to be impaired, or does any act likely to impair the health or morals of any such child, or (2) has contact with the intimate parts, as defined in section 53a-65, of a child under the age of sixteen years or subjects a child under sixteen years of age to contact with the intimate parts of such person, in a sexual and indecent manner likely to impair the health or morals of such child, or (3) permanently transfers the legal or physical custody of a child under the age of sixteen years to another person for money or other valuable consideration or acquires or receives the legal or physical custody of a child under the age of sixteen years from another person upon payment of money or other valuable consideration to such other person or a third person, except in connection with an adoption proceeding that complies with the provisions of chapter 803, shall be guilty of (A) a class C felony for a violation of subdivision (1) or (3) of this subsection, and (B) a class B felony for a violation of subdivision (2) of this subsection, except that, if the violation is of subdivision (2) of this subsection and the victim of the offense is under thirteen years of age, such person shall be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of which five years of the sentence imposed may not be suspended or reduced by the court.
(b) The act of a parent or agent leaving an infant thirty days or younger with a designated employee pursuant to section 17a-58 shall not constitute a violation of this section.

Conn. Gen. Stat. § 53-21

(1949 Rev., S. 8369; P.A. 95-142, S. 1; P.A. 97-147, S. 1; P.A. 00-207, S. 6; P.A. 02-138, S. 4; P.A. 07-143, S. 4; P.A. 13-297, S. 1; P.A. 15-205, S. 11.)

Amended by P.A. 15-0205, S. 11 of the Connecticut Acts of the 2015 Regular Session, eff. 10/1/2015.

Cited. 143 C. 604. Evidence of conversations between defendant and school authorities where child was enrolled admissible to show defendant had assumed custody of child; permissible to question child concerning his observation of activities in defendant's house as having bearing on question whether defendant had placed child in situation where morals were likely to be impaired. 149 C. 491. Legislative history discussed; voluntary intoxication is a defense in a criminal action only where specific intent is an element of crime; the second part of section does not require specific intent as an element of the crime charged; therefore intoxication is no defense. 150 C. 245. Cited. 152 C. 197. Defendant may put his character in issue but only as to specific traits of sexual morality and decency, and character witness' testimony must be as to these traits. 157 C. 99. Cited. 160 C. 366; 162 C. 123. Separability of conduct in statutory construction, discussed. 164 C. 69. Section does not require a showing that the health of the child was impaired, but only that the conduct or the acts of defendant were such that the health of the child was likely to be impaired. 165 Conn. 288. Cited. 172 C. 140; 176 C. 138. In light of prior opinions of court, there is sufficient warning that acts charged are proscribed by statute. 180 C. 54. Cited. 181 C. 406; Id., 426. Section is not constitutionally infirm since it clearly lays down a legislative policy on the subject legislated upon; section does not violate the ex post facto clause of the federal constitution; section does not contravene the doctrine of separation of powers because it does not represent any delegation of legislative powers. 183 C. 17. Cited. Id., 586; 185 C. 199; 186 C. 45; 187 C. 73; 188 C. 565; 189 C. 1; 190 C. 84; 191 C. 453. Statute unconstitutional when applied to instances of willing and voluntary participation by a person between 15 and 16 years of age. 192 C. 154. Cited. 197 C. 666; 199 C. 47; 200 C. 734; 201 C. 211; 203 C. 506; 204 C. 187; Id., 523; Id., 683; 205 C. 27; Id., 515; Id., 528; 207 C. 233. Statute unconstitutionally vague in the circumstances of this case. Id., 456. Cited. 210 C. 51; Id., 244; Id., 359; Id., 396; Id., 582; 211 C. 185; Id., 555; 214 C. 378; Id., 717; 215 C. 653; 216 C. 699; 219 C. 283; 222 C. 331; Id., 556; 224 C. 1; Id., 656; 227 C. 207; Id., 829; 228 C. 393; Id., 552; Id., 610; Id., 795; 229 C. 580; Id., 839; 230 C. 43; 233 C. 502; Id., 813; 235 C. 659; Id., 746; 236 C. 189; Id., 342; 237 C. 321; 240 C. 766; 241 C. 823; 242 C. 211; Id., 296. Statute not unconstitutionally vague as applied to the facts of the case. 248 C. 543. Medical treatment exception to the hearsay rule applies to a child sexual assault victim's statements made to a social worker acting in the chain of medical care if statements were made to obtain medical treatment and were pertinent to the treatment sought. 260 C. 1. State not required to prove specific intent under section and evidence re victim's injuries was sufficient to support conviction under section; this section and Sec. 53a-59(a)(3) do not stand in relationship to each other as greater and lesser included offenses and are not the same offense for double jeopardy purposes. Id., 93. Prescribes a general liability crime and defendant cannot prevail on claim that attempt charge under section is invalid based on strict liability of crime; defendant's claim that criminalizing an attempt to commit risk of injury is like criminalizing an attempted attempt is without merit; section not unconstitutionally vague based on facts of case. 277 C. 155. State was not required to prove that child's health was actually impaired by defendant's act of taking child to another country, away from child's mother, during defendant's and mother's divorce proceedings. 280 C. 660. Cited. 2 CA 333; 3 CA 459; Id., 607; 6 CA 150; 7 CA 46; Id., 131; Id., 653. Held to be in error for a trial court to deny request for a jury instruction on issue of consent in risk of injury case involving a 15-year-old girl. 8 CA 216. Cited. Id., 216; Id., 313; Id., 469; Id., 528. Not constitutionally infirm as being void for vagueness. 9 CA 74. Cited. 10 CA 591; 11 CA 80; Id., 236; 12 CA 288; Id., 320; Id., 403; 13 CA 368; Id., 378; Id., 667; 14 CA 244; Id., 333; 15 CA 222; Id., 251; 17 CA 174; Id., 186; Id., 447; Id., 525; 18 CA 273; Id., 297; Id., 459; Id., 477; 19 CA 44; Id., 646; 20 CA 40; Id., 75; Id., 115; Id., 193; Id., 263; Id., 288; Id., 530; Id., 572; Id., 630; Id., 694; Id., 737; 21 CA 449; 23 CA 1; Id., 241; Id., 712; 24 CA 57; Id., 146. Not unconstitutionally vague or overbroad as applied to defendant. Id., 300. Cited. Id., 330; 25 CA 235; Id., 243; Id., 334; 26 CA 81; Id., 625; judgment reversed, see 224 C. 656 and 31 CA 452; Id., 674; Id., 758; 28 CA 91; Id., 388; Id., 581; judgment reversed, see 226 C. 601; 29 CA 591; Id., 683; Id., 689; Id., 724; 30 CA 527; Id., 654; 31 CA 120; Id., 497; 32 CA 84; Id., 217; judgment reversed, see 229 Conn. 580; Id., 773; 33 CA 133; Id., 162; Id., 205; Id., 743; judgment reversed, see 233 Conn. 502; 34 CA 46; Id., 428; Id., 473; Id., 807; 35 CA 520; Id., 728; Id., 754; 36 CA 383; Id., 448; judgment reversed, see 236 C. 342; Id., 525; 37 CA 21; Id., 180; Id., 388; Id., 534; 38 CA 56; Id., 125; 39 CA 267; Id., 657; Id., 702; Id., 742; 40 CA 1; Id., 132; Id., 233; Id., 395; Id., 805; 41 CA 204; Id., 287; Id., 333; Id., 701; 42 CA 147; Id., 186; judgment reversed, see 241 Conn. 823; Id., 371; Id., 382; 43 CA 142; Id., 458; Id., 578; Id., 619; Id., 667; Id., 715; Id., 785; 44 CA 457; 45 CA 66; Id., 116; Id., 261; Id., 512; Id., 613; Id., 756; 46 CA 24; Id., 691. Although victim must be less than 16, there is no age requirement for the actor; thus, violation can result in adjudication that defendant is a youthful offender; not unconstitutionally vague where defendant charged with consensual statutory rape had fair notice from the terms of statute and from judicial opinions. 47 CA 68. Evidence presented at trial concerning death of healthy 1-year-old left in defendant's care was sufficient to support conviction. Id., 188. This offense and offense of sexual assault in the fourth degree under Sec. 53a-73a(a)(1)(A) are not the same offense for double jeopardy purposes. 49 CA 409. Sentencing under both risk of injury and promoting prostitution statutes not a double jeopardy violation. 53 CA 627. Statute found not to be unconstitutionally vague on its face as applied to facts of case; defendant had sufficient notice that leaving three young children unattended created a situation that endangered their physical well-being. 56 CA 395. Evidence was sufficient for jury to find defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. 57 CA 736. Not unconstitutionally vague and overbroad with respect to the display of pornographic material to minors; not unconstitutionally vague with respect to Sec. 30-86 where defendant was merely a care provider and Department of Children and Families retained guardianship over minor in question; does not unconstitutionally interfere with rights of parents to raise children and is not unconstitutionally vague and overbroad in violation of right to freedom of speech where defendant was not parent of teenaged girls and prior case law gave fair warning that conduct of showing pornographic movies to children could result in arrest; defendant's conduct was at issue, not content of pornographic movies. 69 CA 400. Evidence was sufficient to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. 75 CA 201. Under section, relevant inquiry is whether defendant committed any act that was likely to endanger the life or limb, or impair the health, of the children, whether or not the children actually were injured; it is not necessary, to support conviction under section, that defendant be aware that his conduct is likely to impact a child younger than 16; specific intent is not a necessary requirement of section; rather, the intent to do some act coupled with reckless disregard of its consequences is sufficient to find a violation. Id., 432. Evidence was sufficient for jury to determine that defendant created a situation likely to impair victims' morals and actual injury was not required. 83 CA 452. Proof of wilful behavior that recklessly exposes a minor to injury may be sufficient to convict defendant of risk of injury even if defendant did not have specific intent to expose the child to risk of injury. 84 CA 464. Defendant who intentionally gave LSD to minor had requisite general intent to sustain conviction under section. 85 CA 575. Where there is armed robbery and unknown to defendant a child is present, statute applies even if no intent to harm child since conduct demonstrates reckless disregard of consequences of action. Id., 802. Convictions for risk of injury to a child in violation of this section, revised to 1997, and assault in the first degree in violation of Sec. 53a-59 are separate and distinct offenses for purposes of double jeopardy. 145 CA 374. Evidence of conviction under section held not sufficient evidence to warrant a decree of divorce for the commission of an infamous crime involving a violation of conjugal duty. 21 CS 198. Defendant arrested and charged under section after hearing was properly bound over to Superior Court where he was charged with aggravated assault. 27 CS 429. Cited. 29 CS 187. Presentment for this crime barred by prohibition against double jeopardy where defendant had been convicted in circuit court for lesser offense for the same actions. 31 CS 28. Cited. 41 CS 229. Cited. 6 Conn. Cir. Ct. 548. Subsec. (a): Cited. 240 C. 743. Statute does not contain an element of physical violence; nor does it require actual impairment of the health or moral values of child. 260 C. 486. "Likely", as used in Subsec., cannot be understood fairly to encompass a meaning of either "possible" or "in all possibility" and, therefore, trial court's instructions to the contrary were improper. 269 C. 481. Subdiv. (1): In cases concerning alleged sexual misconduct, an act likely to impair a child's morals must involve physical touching of victim's person in a sexual and indecent way; such touching, however, need not involve private parts of either victim or defendant; in such cases, an act likely to impair a child's health, when committed in a sexual context, includes only those acts that involve direct touching of victim's person and are, or are likely to be, injurious to victim's physical health. 273 C. 56. First part of Subdiv. (1) prohibits creation of situations detrimental to a child's welfare, while second part proscribes injurious acts directly perpetrated on the child. Id., 138. Subdiv. (1) intended to apply to any conduct, whether or not legal, that could reasonably result in injury to a child, but where apartment was cluttered and had unpleasant odor but did not violate any statutory or regulatory standards, there was insufficient notice to defendant that conditions posed risk of injury to child's mental health. 279 C. 678. Delay in seeking medical attention, placing child in dangerous situation, can be shown by circumstantial evidence where expert witness testified that victim would have screamed for at least 15 minutes after alleged injury and mother, who arrived at home after the time of such injury, did not hear victim scream. 288 C. 290. Under 2005 revision, section and Sec. 53a-73a(a)(1)(A) are not the same offenses for double jeopardy purposes. 291 C. 1. Offense of risk of injury to a child under Subdiv. (1) is not logically inconsistent with defense of parental justification under Sec. 53a-18(1). 294 C. 243. Subdiv. (1): Evidence of defendant's wilful failure to supervise his child inside the home does not, on its own, establish defendant's commission of the crime of risk of injury to a child; totality of the circumstances surrounding defendant's actions must color the character of defendant's conduct; in determining whether parent has committed crime of risk of injury to a child by failing to adequately supervise that child in the home, factors to be considered include the gravity and character of the possible risks of harm, the degree of the accessibility of the parent, the length of time of abandonment, the age and maturity of the child, the protective measures, if any, taken by the parent, and any other circumstance that would inform the fact finder on the question whether the parent's conduct was reckless. 303 C. 18. Subdiv. (2): Jury's finding of contact between penis and anus or buttocks area suffices as the requisite contact. 53 CA 720. Statute not unconstitutionally vague as applied to defendant whose birthday is within 2 years of the victim's birthday. 61 CA 738. Conviction for risk of injury to a child based on charge that health of child was likely to be impaired reversed where evidence at trial established only that child was in the presence of unsmoked marijuana; there is no case law authority to support the proposition that being in the presence of unsmoked marijuana is inherently injurious to the health of a child. 73 CA 386. Subdiv. (1): To convict defendant of the crime of risk of injury to a child, competent evidence must be presented as to whether a situation was likely to cause harm to a child. Id., 809. Subdiv. (1): State not required to prove that defendant's general intent was to impair the health of his child; all that is necessary is the general intent to perform the act that resulted in the injury. 74 CA 736. Subdiv. (1): State did not have to prove that defendant knew of the presence of the child but simply that the child was present at the time the victim was shot. 78 CA 535. Pursuant to Subdiv. (2), risk of injury to or impairing the morals of a child involves sexual contact with a child younger than 16 "in a sexual and indecent manner likely to impair the health or morals of such child"; Sec. 53a-71, sexual assault in the second degree, contains no such similar provision; risk of injury to a child, therefore, contains elements lacking in sexual assault in the second degree; legislative history supports conclusion that a conviction under both risk of injury to or impairing the morals of children and sexual assault in the second degree do not constitute multiple punishments for the same offense because the legislature intended to create a new crime. 79 CA 591. To be found guilty under the "any act" provision of section, all that is necessary is general intent to perform the act that resulted in the injury; it is unnecessary for court to instruct jury that there must be evidence that defendant intended to harm victim or knew that victim was in the area and would likely be harmed. 84 CA 263. Court's instruction that "likely" had same meaning as "possible", while improper, did not constitute reversible error or deprive defendant of due process since court also gave proper interpretation of "probable" or "in all probability" and evidence supported the verdict. 85 Conn.App. 575. Subdiv. (1): Evidence that defendant forcibly took victim's arm and attempted to pull her toward him was insufficient to prove that defendant committed an act likely to be injurious to victim's physical health. 95 CA 332. Subdiv. (2): Although trial court erred when it defined "likely" as "possibly" in the phrase "likely to impair the health or morals of a minor child", it was not reasonably possible that jury was misled and therefore defendant was not clearly deprived of a fair trial. 99 CA 251. Subdiv. (1): Examining plain language of risk of injury statute and statute providing for the justification defense of reasonable parental discipline, Sec. 53a-18(1), there is no apparent reason to bar application of Sec. 53a-18(1) to a charge under Subdiv. Id., 713. Subdiv. (1): Mere fact that defendant does not physically touch a child while pursuing that child does not relieve defendant of criminal liability under section. 100 CA 619. Subdiv. (2): Jury's acquittal of charge under Sec. 53a-70(a)(2) did not invalidate jury's conviction under this section based on same facts. 108 CA 264. Subdiv. (1): The jury could have reasonably concluded that defendant violated the "situation" prong when he engaged the victim in flirtatious conversation, grabbed her wrist and neck and attempted to pull her forcibly through his vehicle's open window, endangering her mental health or physical well-being, or engaging in the impairment of her morals. 111 CA 259. Subdiv. (1): Not void for vagueness as applied because language is sufficient to put reasonable person on notice that opening bathroom door to look at 6-year-old for voyeuristic purposes or sexual gratification is unlawful conduct. 115 CA 467. Subdiv. (1): Failure to protect a child from harm creates a situation that is violative of Subdiv., and this duty to protect logically includes a duty to supervise one's child, especially where there are known dangers that pose a risk of injury to that child; Subdiv. not void for vagueness as applied to defendant's conduct because reasonable person would recognize that allowing 2-year-old child to play unsupervised in home with unlocked door near busy street presents a foreseeable risk of injury to that child. 116 CA 1; judgment reversed, see 303 Conn. 18. Subdiv. (1): Defendant's actions in enticing the victim into a situation for the purpose of engaging in a sexual act were not merely incidental and necessary to his performing the sexual act, instead the actions were sufficient for independent prosecution under Subdiv. 118 CA 1. Subdiv. (2): This offense and offense of sexual assault in the first degree, Sec. 53a-70(a)(2), are not the same offense for double jeopardy purposes. Id., 180. Subsec. (a)(2) and Sec. 53a-73a(a)(1)(A), 2003 revision, are not the same offenses for double jeopardy purposes. Id., 589. Jury reasonably could have inferred that the act of an adult man placing his tongue into the mouth of an 8-year-old girl was likely to have impaired her morals. 121 CA 75. Acquittal of risk of injury to a child under Subdiv. (1) is not inconsistent with conviction on charge of reckless driving under Sec. 14-222(a) because each offense contains different elements and an acquittal on one is not inconsistent with a conviction on the other. 122 CA 631. Subdiv. (1): Subdiv. is not unconstitutionally vague as applied to defendant because, in addition to significant precedential authority, it provided defendant with sufficient notice that exposing himself to a 14 year old girl via his web cam and masturbating in her view was prohibited; Subdiv. requires only that defendant willfully causes or permits a child to be placed in a situation likely to impair his or her morals; Subdiv. does not require an element of coercion and does not provide that victim be an unwilling one. 127 Conn.App. 464. Subdiv. (1): Sexual speech and threatening conduct toward a minor is within situation prong of risk of injury statute. 128 CA 355. Despite defendant's claim of diminished mental capacity, she possessed the mental state required for a conviction under Subdiv. (1) because she understood the causal relationship between her acts and the risk of harm to the victim; evidence presented at trial was insufficient to support conclusion that defendant's act in giving a few drops of hot sauce to the young victim would likely endanger the life or impair the health of the victim. 131 Conn.App. 65; judgment affirmed, see 308 Conn. 835. Subdiv. (2) not unconstitutionally vague as applied to defendant who made deliberate contact with victim's intimate parts. 137 CA 152. Subdiv. (1) does not require proof of actual injury to the health or morals of a child, but prohibits conduct which is likely to do so. 139 CA 553. Subdiv. (1): Fact finder could reasonably have concluded that defendant's act of providing alcohol to a minor as a prelude to sexually assaulting her was an act to impair her health or morals despite child's not actually being impaired by the alcohol; Subdiv. not unconstitutionally vague as applied to defendant, and defendant's act of providing alcohol to minor prior to sexually assaulting her rendered Sec. 30-86 inoperable under circumstances. 148 CA 378. To obtain conviction under situation prong of Subdiv. (1), the state was not required to prove that sexual conduct transpired or that the child in question sustained an injury. 162 CA 569. Subdiv. (2): Conviction under this Subdiv. and Sec. 53a-71(a)(1) does not violate defendant's constitutional right against double jeopardy because each crime requires proof of a fact that the other does not. 174 CA 172. Subdiv. (2): Lack of actual injury to morals of the victim is not relevant, as actual injury to morals is not an element of risk of injury offense. 48 CS 610.

See chapter 968a re address confidentiality program. See Sec. 17a-101a re intentional or unreasonable interference with the making of a report of suspected child abuse or neglect. See Sec. 54-193a re statute of limitations for sexual abuse, exploitation or assault of minor.