Colorado Juvenile Delinquency (Juvenile Criminal) Law
The Colorado Children’s Code provides that adolescents under the age of 18 years old may be charged in juvenile court or sent to juvenile detention centers for illegal behavior. Most often, rather than being accused of being guilty of having committed a crime, the minor is accused of having committed a delinquent act. If the juvenile is found to have committed the prohibited act he or she is considered not to have been convicted of a crime, but rather to have been adjudicated as having committed an act of juvenile delinquency.
In Colorado while minors who are adjudicated as juvenile delinquents may be treated differently than adults convicted of crimes, how minors are punished can still have serious consequences for their futures. In addition to the possibility of incarceration, fines and other possible sanctions, a juvenile record will normally be a part of an individual’s criminal history and may affect the ability of an individual to obtain certain types of employment or be admitted to certain educational programs or obtain certain professional licenses.
Juvenile Delinquency Crimes
Many crimes are routinely handled in juvenile court, and, in any such instances, a lawyer can stand up for the rights of the accused child. Some of the types of delinquency cases that our firm handles are listed below, though we are not limited by this list:
- Sex Defenses
- Theft or Robbery
- Possession or Distribution of Controlled Substances
We also handle matters in which marijuana or other drugs are found on a juvenile. Many of these situations involve the discovery of the drugs by a police liaison officer who is stationed on a high school campus. These types of charges are eligible for the same types of punishments as if the drugs were discovered away from school and should be taken seriously.
Upon completion of the juvenile delinquency sentencing hearing, pursuant to the Colorado Children’s Code, the court shall enter a decree of sentence or commitment imposing any of the following sentences or combination of sentences, as appropriate and in accordance with Colorado law:
(a) Commitment to the department of human services;
(b) Under certain circumstances confinement in the county jail or in community corrections;
(d) Placement of legal custody of the juvenile with a relative or other suitable person;
(f) Commitment to the community accountability program;
(g) Placement of legal custody of the juvenile in the county department of social services or a child placement agency;
(h) Placement of the juvenile in a hospital or other suitable facility for receipt of special care;
(i) Imposition of a fine;
(j) Ordering the juvenile to pay restitution;
(k) Ordering the juvenile to complete an anger management treatment program or any other appropriate treatment program, as provided by applicable Colorado statutes;
(l) Participation in an evaluation to determine whether the juvenile would be suitable for restorative justice practices that would be a part of the juvenile’s sentence; except that the court may not order participation in restorative justice practices if the juvenile was adjudicated a delinquent for unlawful sexual behavior as defined in Colorado statutes, or a crime in which the underlying factual basis involves domestic violence as defined in applicable Colorado statutes.
The judge shall sentence any juvenile adjudicated as a special offender as provided in the Colorado Children’s Code.
Any sentence imposed on a juvenile pursuant to applicable sections of the Colorado Children’s Code may include the juvenile’s parent or guardian.
If, as a condition of or in connection with any sentence imposed pursuant to this section, the court requires a juvenile to attend school, the court shall notify the school district in which the juvenile is enrolled of such requirement.
Except as otherwise provided for an aggravated juvenile offender, if the court finds that placement out of the home is necessary and is in the best interests of the juvenile and the community, the court shall place the juvenile, following the criteria established in Colorado statutes, in the facility or setting that most appropriately meets the needs of the juvenile, the juvenile’s family, and the community. In making its decision as to proper placement, the court shall utilize the evaluation for placement prepared pursuant to Colorado statutes. Any placement recommendation in the evaluation prepared by the county department of social services shall be accorded great weight as the placement that most appropriately meets the needs of the juvenile, the juvenile’s family, and the community. Any deviation from such recommendation shall be supported by specific findings on the record of the case detailing the specific extraordinary circumstances that constitute the reasons for deviations from the placement recommendation of the county department of social services. Such recommendation prepared by the county department of social services shall set forth specific facts and reasons for the placement recommendation. If the evaluation for placement recommends placement in a facility located in Colorado that can provide appropriate treatment and that will accept the juvenile, then the court shall not place the juvenile in a facility outside this state
If the court sentences a juvenile to an out-of-home placement funded by the department of human services or any county, or commits a juvenile to the department of human services, and the receiving agency determines that such placement or commitment does not follow the criteria established pursuant to the applicable Colorado statute, including the placement recommended by the receiving agency, the receiving agency may, after assessing such juvenile’s needs, file a petition with the court for reconsideration of the placement or commitment. Any such petition shall be filed not later than thirty days after the placement or commitment. The court shall hear such petition and enter an order thereon not later than thirty days after the filing of the petition, and after notice to all agencies or departments that might be affected by the resolution of the petition, and after all such agencies or departments have had an opportunity to participate in the hearing on the petition. Failure of any such agency or department to appear may be a basis for refusal to accept a subsequent petition by any such agency or department that had an opportunity to appear and be present at the original petition hearing.
If the court sentences a juvenile to an out-of-home placement funded by the county department of social services, temporary legal custody of such juvenile shall be placed with the county department of social services, and the placement recommended by such county department shall be accorded great weight as the placement that most appropriately meets the needs of the juvenile, the juvenile’s family, and the community. Any deviation from such recommendation shall be supported by specific findings on the record of the case detailing the specific extraordinary circumstances that constitute the reasons for deviations from the placement recommendation of the county department of social services.
The juvenile court in each judicial district may implement a mental illness screening program to screen juveniles sentenced pursuant to Colorado juvenile law.
There are provisions under Colorado juvenile delinquency law that treat repeat juvenile delinquents more harshly. For instance, Colorado has established a classification for Mandatory Sentence Offenders which provides that the child must be placed outside the home. Repeat Juvenile Offenders can be sentenced to the Colorado Department of Human Services for a minimal term. A Violent Juvenile Offender, who is at least thirteen years old and adjudicated for a delinquent act that constitutes a crime of violence may be sentenced to the Colorado Department of Human Services for a minimal term. An aggravated juvenile offender who either is: 1) at least twelve years old and is adjudicated a juvenile delinquent for a delinquent act that constitutes a Class 1 or Class 2 felony; or 2) has had probation revoked for a delinquent act that constitutes a Class 1 or Class 2 felony, may be placed into the Colorado Department of Corrections for five years.
Although many allegations of illegal conduct by individuals under eighteen are brought in Colorado juvenile courts, minors can also be charged in Colorado municipal courts and, in the most serious cases, may under certain circumstances be charged as adults. More severe penalties can apply if the juvenile is charged as an adult.
Individuals adjudicated as a juvenile delinquent within Colorado have the potential option, under certain circumstances, to request that a Colorado judge enter an order the expunging (removing) the juvenile delinquency record. There are waiting periods which must pass prior to this being requested, and the criteria for a judge to expunge a juvenile record is complex. Experienced Colorado legal counsel should be consulted if a juvenile, or former juvenile, desires to expunge a juvenile record.
Many minors appear in Colorado juvenile court with a parent and attempt to represent themselves without the benefit of a juvenile delinquency lawyer. Often, these individuals plead guilty to charges without understanding the ramifications of their actions.
An experienced Denver area juvenile defense lawyer like Ross Koplin can assist an adolescent in advocating the minor’s Colorado legal rights after being charged in a Denver juvenile criminal matter, assist an individual in preparing the best defense and arguing for that individual’s best defense both at trial and in pre-trial proceedings related to that juvenile criminal charge.
Contact Colorado Juvenile Criminal Attorney Ross Koplin
In the Denver metropolitan area, and in other areas of Colorado, we have handled many delinquency cases and have the experience necessary to provide you with the advice and guidance your family deserves. Attorney Ross Koplin will discuss the many different options for restitution available and the different ways in which we can pursue a resolution to your child’s case. We will help you evaluate every reasonable defense that may be available to a juvenile. For a free, confidential telephone consultation call Ross Koplin at: (303) 831-8924.
Legal Disclaimer – The information contained at this web site is not intended to be legal advice and all information regarding Colorado criminal law is general content only and should not be relied upon for any specific Colorado criminal law situation. Information on this web site is not intended to be comprehensive and does not cover all the issues, nuances or ramifications related to the topic discussed. This web site may not be updated routinely to reflect the very most current Colorado law.
Individuals should consult an experienced Denver criminal lawyer for advice regarding an individual situation.