Currently, Colorado lawmakers are supervising a detailed review of the state’s juvenile justice system. Lawmakers and advocates are working to give minors a better chance at succeeding after being in the juvenile corrections system.
Why is this review needed?
Because minors who are incarcerated have a high chance of reoffending. From 2013 to 2015, the percentage of minor reoffenders was between 49 and 55 percent, which means many of them are not learning from their mistakes. The new review could help lawmakers and advocates find better ways to prevent the reoffending cycle from occurring and put helpful laws into motion in 2019.
That’s for the future, though. If your child is arrested for a juvenile offense in Colorado in the near future, or if they’re already facing a charge, it helps to know how the legal process will unfold.
In this post, we’ll describe that process and tell you what you can do to minimize the damage to your son or daughter.
Understanding Colorado’s Juvenile Justice Process
Under the current system, you can expect your child to go through this process if he or she is arrested in Colorado.
If the offense is a minor one, they may merely be given a citation and required to pay a fine. However, if the offense is more serious, your child will be taken into custody.
A juvenile probation officer will then handle your child’s case. The officer will determine the level of risk. If the risk level is low, your child will be released to go home with you. If the risk level is elevated, your child will be taken to a juvenile detention center.
Within 24 hours of being taken into custody, your child will appear before a juvenile court system judge for a hearing. At the hearing, the judge will determine whether he or she is eligible for alternative sentencing or should be tried as an adult.
At a subsequent hearing, the judge will decide whether your child’s acts were delinquent. If the judge rules in the affirmative, they will announce the length of time your child will spend in the juvenile detention center. If your child’s acts are determined not to be delinquent, the judge will issue a probation sentence.
Depending on the nature of your child’s acts, they may be required to complete several requirements during probation. These requirements may include community service, restitution, counseling, treatment programs and rehabilitation courses. If your child fails to complete any of these requirements, his or her probation will be revoked, and the sentencing process could be put in motion once again.
If the judge decides that your child should be tried as an adult, the district attorney will file the charges. In a series of hearings and pre-trial conferences, your child will issue a plea of guilty or not guilty. He or she could face a trial by jury and will be subject to criminal penalties like incarceration, fines, and probation if convicted.
Being able to Navigate Your Way Through the Colorado Juvenile Justice System Can Save Your Kid a Lot of Grief
A child’s run-in with the law can be a parent’s worst nightmare. You can feel like you have no control over what’s happening, and precious little understanding. Worse, the stakes are huge.
Beyond the immediate penalties are a number of possible long-term consequences for your child.
Learning the process and knowing what to expect is your first step to being able to effectively fight back. Your best chance, however, involves working with an experienced professional who has had success dealing with these types of cases in the past.
Don’t wait and deliberate – this is your child’s future we’re talking about here.
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.