Under certain circumstances, Colorado law permits prosecutors in Denver and Weld County to file charges against Juveniles in District Court as adults. This procedure is called “Direct Filing,” (C.R.S. 19-2-517).
Title 19 of the Colorado Revised Statutes is called the Children’s Code. One of its primary purposes, according to the Colorado Court of Appeals (see People in Interest of B.M.C.., 32 Colo. App. 79, 506 P.2d 409 (1973)), is to “create a distinction between adults and children who violate law.” But when a violation of the law is serious, and when prosecutors in Douglas or Arapahoe County want to look tough on crime, the distinction is tossed out and the Direct Filing statute is applied.
Juvenile Direct Filing in Colorado
In order for a child to be tried as an adult, he must be sixteen years of age or older at the time of the offense, charged with a class 1 or 2 felony, or charged with certain sexual offenses. Direct filing can also happen if the juvenile has previously been adjudicated in a felony offense.
Over the past several years Colorado laws concerning Direct Filing have come under fire by the media. National and local news stories, such as this one in the Denver Post, put pressure on law makers to treat children as children. However, when a particularly violent crime makes the news, such as the Jessica Ridgeway case in Jefferson County, the pendulum swings rapidly in the other direction.
It is not my job as a defense attorney to make a conclusion regarding the Direct Filing statute. I am dedicated to providing the best defense possible for my clients and to work within the rules of the law. There are many things a judge must consider when deciding to accept a Direct Filed case. Some of those things involve the juvenile’s level of maturity, her emotional attitudes, and pattern of living. At the O’Malley Law Office, P.C., our Criminal Defense attorneys do everything in their power to present reasons why a child’s case should remain in Juvenile court.
If your child has been accused of committing a crime anywhere in Colorado, our first advice is always the same, do not talk with authorities. That advice usually starts with the police, but includes the Department of Human Services. You should always talk first with an experienced attorney before making any statements. So, “be smart, exercise your right to remain silent, and call us at 303-731-0719. Together we can protect your future.”