In Colorado, juvenile crimes are those that involve minors between the ages of 10 and 18. For the most part, courts treat juvenile offenders differently than adult offenders.

However, the penalties for these crimes can be similar to adult crimes, especially if they are felonies. For example, penalties include probation, fines, or detention in a juvenile facility or jail.

Because of the young age of juvenile offenders, facing juvenile felony charges in Colorado can be a stressful time for the entire family. Additionally, juvenile felony charges can potentially have lasting effects on a teenager’s future.

What Happens During Arrest

In Colorado, before a minor goes into custody, their parents or legal guardians are notified. If the minor may have committed a violent crime or a crime with weapons, they can be held in a juvenile detention facility. Otherwise, they can be released to their parents.

If the minor goes into custody, there will be a hearing within 48 hours to assess whether they should stay. The district attorney will review the minor’s file.

It is the DA who will make a recommendation as to whether the minor should go to juvenile court or district court as an adult. If they are 16 or older, the minor may be tried as an adult in the most serious cases.

What is the Goal of Juvenile Court?

In Colorado, the juvenile justice system assesses juvenile cases where incarceration may not be the best option. The thought is that because juvenile offenders are so young, they may have the opportunity to learn and reform themselves.

According to the Colorado Children’s Code, the juvenile justice system should consider the best interests of the juvenile offender, the victim, and the community to help the minor become a productive member of society and reduce recidivism, also known as reoffending.

Even if a minor is facing juvenile felony charges in Colorado, having their case in juvenile court is best. This is because the juvenile justice system offers more options for sentencing and reform. 

If your minor child is facing charges, it’s best to get an experienced criminal defense attorney’s help immediately. Your attorney can begin communicating with the DA’s office about the charges on behalf of your child.

How Are Juvenile Offenders Categorized?

In Colorado, juveniles may commit adult offenses, such as drug possession. They may also commit juvenile-specific offenses, such as truancy or underage possession. If the court finds the minor guilty of their charge, sentencing can vary greatly depending on the type of offense committed. 

If a minor is tried in juvenile court, the court will investigate the facts of the juvenile’s life before final sentencing. The court will consider factors such as the juvenile’s prior record, their home life, their potential for committing a crime again in the future, and their likelihood of success in a reform program.

Juveniles in Colorado fall into certain classes to determine their sentencing as well as their potential eligibility to have their record expunged.

Mandatory Sentence Juvenile Offenders

A mandatory sentence juvenile offender is one that has been found guilty of committing a delinquent act twice or had their probation revoked. 

Repeat Juvenile Offenders

A repeat juvenile offender is one who has previously committed a crime and commits a felony or has their probation revoked for a felony.

Violent Juvenile Offenders

A violent juvenile offender is one who has committed a crime of violence as defined under Colorado law. Violent crimes in Colorado include:

  • Use of a deadly weapon or threatened use of a deadly weapon,
  • Bodily injury or death to a victim,
  • Murder,
  • Kidnapping,
  • First or second-degree assault,
  • Sexual offenses,
  • First-degree arson,
  • First-degree burglary,
  • Criminal extortion, and
  • First or second-degree unlawful termination of pregnancy. 

Aggravated Juvenile Offenders

Aggravated juvenile offenders are those that commit a Class 1 or Class 2 felony, have their probation revoked for a Class 1 or Class 2 felony, or commit a violent crime as defined above.

Juveniles Tried or Sentenced as Adults

A court may try a minor as an adult if they are 16 or older. If a district attorney recommends transferring the minor to district court, a judge may do so. They will then consider the minor’s age, the type of crime they committed, and their history to determine whether to try that minor as an adult.

How to Fight Juvenile Felony Charges In Colorado

If your child is facing juvenile felony charges in Colorado, you need an experienced attorney’s help immediately. The goal of the juvenile justice system is to help your child learn from their mistakes and enter society in a productive manner.

However, in order for that to happen, you must have an attorney who understands the juvenile justice system and knows how best to help you and your family.

Contact Miller Leonard, PC for help with your juvenile case. We can help you figure out the best options to ensure a brighter future for your child.


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