The holidays are a great time to reconnect with your family and to give kids that much-needed break from school. Unfortunately, most parents don’t get a break from their work schedules — at least not as long as school holidays. That leaves a lot of kids unsupervised…and bored.
This scheduling difference can, and often does, keep Colorado police stations busy over the break. While most juvenile crimes committed during the holidays are relatively harmless, they can be a pain in the neck for parents.
What to do if your Colorado teen is charged with a crime over the holiday break? Don’t wait to address the situation.
Don’t Wait to Address CO Criminal Matters Involving Your Teen
A criminal record can follow even the least mischievous kids around much longer than a few weeks. Charges can actually prevent them from getting jobs, getting financial aid, and getting into the college of their dreams years down the line.
Don’t wait to expunge their juvenile criminal record, if you don’t have to. Take action now to prevent charges from affecting your child’s life in the long term.
Criminal Charges Colorado Teens Typically Face
The limitations and penalties placed on Colorado teens depend on the crimes they allegedly committed. These are the most common charges Colorado teens usually face:
- Minor in Possession of Alcohol
- Selling or Giving Alcoholic Beverages to a Minor
- Underage Drinking and Driving
- Criminal Mischief
Luckily, these common charges are just misdemeanors. Criminal mischief isn’t a felony charge unless your teen racks up more than $1,000 worth of damage. These charges could be reduced before your teen faces a conviction or sentencing.
The first step in dealing with your child’s charges is to understand them. Read over the laws so you know when and how your child allegedly committed a crime.
Talk to a Colorado juvenile defense lawyer about ways to reduce the charges against your teen. Or the possibility of fighting them and proving that your child was not guilty altogether. Remember, a charge is not a conviction.
Talk To Your Colorado Teen About What Happens Next
In order for a judge to drop the charges against your teen, your teen will have to be on their best behavior. Sit down with your child and let them know what happens next.
Any additional arrests or even write-ups at school will not look good if they have to appear in court. Most likely, however, your teen will be put through a diversion course that allows them to avoid the court system.
Talking to Your Defense Attorney vs. Talking to the Police
Your child’s defense attorney will also need to know more about the day of the arrest and what led up to your child being charged. If your child is nervous about talking to you, stress the importance of at the very least telling your attorney exactly what happened.
It’s also important to tell your teen about their rights when talking to law enforcement officers. Unlike talking to a defense attorney, telling officers too much could backfire. Your lawyer will have further advice about that.
When Your CO Teen Is Convicted, Pay Fines Sooner Than Later
In 2017, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed a bill into law that would help teens get back on track with their lives. The law states that most juvenile crime records will be immediately expunged once a teen has finished their sentence.
As soon as fines are paid and your teen’s license is restored, they should be eligible to hide their criminal history from employers, landlords, and college admissions offices.
Make sure your teen stays on top of deadlines and serves their sentence sooner rather than later.
They may have to fill out forms to restore their license or petition for expungement before they can claim that their record is clean.
What If My Teen Hasn’t Been Convicted?
Records are also expunged if the teen is found not guilty in court or the charges were dropped by a judge. If something is showing up on your child’s record, and you have other questions, talk to your lawyer. They can help you through the expungement process in further detail, and may even help fill out the proper paperwork for your family.
Not All Charges Are Eligible for Expungement
Remember, most records will be expunged immediately. Some violent crimes, though, are not eligible for expungement. If your teen was charged with vehicular homicide, for example, they will need to have their case dismissed in order to qualify for expungement.
Still Have Questions? Talk to an Experienced Colorado Lawyer
If your teen has been charged with more serious crimes, it’s especially important that you reach out to a Colorado criminal defense attorney with experience in juvenile crimes. These crimes are not easy to defend, and they can impact your teen for the rest of their life.
Even if your teen faces minor charges, however, it’s still wise to reach out to a professional for advice. They can help you figure out your next steps and determine what is likely to happen to your teen after they’ve been charged.
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” and “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012 and 2013 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state. She has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.