Juvenile justice is a hot topic in every city across the U.S. it seems, but lately, Denver has seen more than its normal share of juvenile crime. According to the Colorado Division of Youth Services, there was a 10-percent increase in violent crimes by young offenders from 2019 to 2020.
Due to this jump in youth-perpetrated crimes in such a short period, advocacy groups are asking Denver courts to help intervene with kids caught up in the juvenile justice system before their crimes land them in adult prisons.
Diversion and other community-based programs that can help kids exit the juvenile justice system are what they want to focus on and what many people feel is necessary, considering violent crime by juveniles is on the rise.
Parents managing difficult periods with their children and juvenile crime accusations can learn more here about the juvenile justice system in Denver and how it can work for your family.
How the Denver Juvenile Justice System Works
A juvenile is defined by the law as a child between the ages of 10 and 18. When a child in this age range commits a crime, then they are entered into the juvenile criminal justice system, a separate system from the adult criminal justice system.
(Children under 10 are typically referred to the Department of Human Services for an evaluation of their personal circumstances.)
For those who enter the system, one of the biggest differences between the juvenile and adult handling is that the juvenile system is not punitive. It is meant to focus on interventions that can help the child or are in their best interest.
That said, the general process does mimic adult processing in that it does involve arrest, hearings, a trial, and corrective measures similar to probation and parole conditions. Let’s take a closer look…
When a juvenile is arrested, they are taken to the main Juvenile Services Center in Denver. Once the parents have been contacted and the case reviewed by staff, they are either released before their trial into the custody of their guardians or they’re taken to detention.
If a child is held in custody, then they will receive a detention hearing. At the hearing, which is to take place within two business days of their arrest, the judge determines whether or not probable cause exists in the case and makes a decision about the bond.
Sometimes, a judge will release the child under supervision. If granted pre-trial release, then they will be monitored often with an electronic home monitor to ensure they’re abiding by the conditions of the release.
Preliminary Hearing and Trial
Within three business days from the detention hearing, then there is a preliminary hearing and then a trial. At the trial, the child can plead guilty or not guilty.
What to Do If Your Juvenile Is Arrested
There are five initial steps parents can take if their child has been arrested and entered into the juvenile justice system. The first is to familiarize yourself with the juvenile justice system and how it works. You are taking that step in part by reading this article. Here are three more:
- Familiarize yourself with the rights your child has and ensure those rights aren’t violated
- Understand that a parent or guardian must be present at every court appearance
- Be sure to make yourself available to attend programs or complete community service as part of the parental responsibility program
The final bit of advice? Consult with a Denver attorney who has experience working in the Colorado juvenile system. Taking these steps can ensure the best chances for helping your child get over this temporary period in their lives and go on to become successful and productive members of the community.
About the Author:
Kimberly Diego is a criminal defense attorney in Denver practicing at The Law Office of Kimberly Diego. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and her law degree at the University of Colorado. She was named one of Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars of 2012 & 2019” and a “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012-2020 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state. Additionally, Expertise names her to its lists of the 25 Best Denver DUI Lawyers and 21 Best Denver Criminal Defense Lawyers, both in 2020. Ms. Diego has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.