Title 19 of the Colorado Revised Statutes is also known as the Colorado Children’s Code deals with Juvenile Crimes. In general, the Children’s Code exists because Coloradans understand that when kids in Jefferson, Arapahoe, or Denver County are charged with a crime, special allowances need to be made for their age. Every parent knows that young children cannot fully understand the implications of their actions, and as they mature more is expected of them. Likewise, prosecutors in Colorado will not charge very young children for taking a toy from a preschool or 7-11. However, if a 13 year old Juvenile shoplifts from Park Meadows Mall in Douglas County, he or she will be arrested and held accountable in juvenile court.
Direct Filing of Juveniles District Court
Leniency is less likely when a crime is serious and as the age of a juvenile is closer to his 18th birthday. If a child is 16 years or older, and is charged with a class 1 or 2 felony, or some sex crimes, he or she may be treated as an adult in Weld, Larimer and El Paso County. This is process is called Direct Filing. When this happens the benefits of being a juvenile go out the window and the child is prosecuted as an adult.
Direct Filing in District Court has become less common since Governor HIckenlooper signed Direct File Reform into law in April of 2012. Before that time, Direct Filing was at the discretion of the District Attorney. Now, courts must hold a hearing to determine if a juvenile can be tried as an adult. In my opinion, this was a step in the right direction for protecting due process rights for juveniles.
Juvenile Charges in Juvenile Court
Juveniles can be charged with any crime an adult can, but how they are treated, how they are moved through the legal system and how they are sentenced, is often very different. Although the Colorado legal system is more forgiving to children, charges should not be taken lightly. Minors can suffer life-long consequences for criminal convictions, especially sexual offenses. A juvenile conviction can keep your son or daughter out of the military or create undue suspicion if he or she is later accused of crime as an adult. When handling a juvenile offense we always look at the future implications to your child.
If your son or daughter is accused of a crime in Mesa or Lincoln County, or anywhere in Colorado, our first advice is always the same, do not talk with police. Your child should respectfully decline answering questions, then, call us at 303-731-0719 for a free consultation. Together we can protect your future.