Colorado Front Range Juvenile Defense Lawyer

When a child is arrested in the Front Range area or anywhere else in the state, they often face a different variety of penalties than adult offenders do.  In Colorado, a child as young as 10 years old may be subject to the jurisdiction of criminal courts. Often though, it’s a teenager that we see in juvenile delinquency matters—and their “respondent parent(s)” who are also summonsed to court anytime they’re in trouble. Sometimes, a teenager could be at the wrong place at the wrong time and become involved in an arrest, even when they did not actually commit a crime themselves.

As such, it is vital to consult with an experienced Colorado Front Range juvenile defense lawyer before your child speaks with investigators. A seasoned criminal defense attorney at Nicol Gersch Law could provide skilled legal representation at each phase of your child’s case and fight for a positive outcome.

What Is Juvenile Court?

In the state of Colorado, juvenile courts specialize in handling cases involving individuals between the ages of 10 and 17 (all the way until their 18th birthday). These cases include the entire spectrum of criminal matters such as:

Colorado Children’s Code Title 19 of the Colorado Revised Statutes governs all juvenile court matters in the state. Juvenile courts follow their own rules of procedure, enabling them to deal with the intricacies of each case while safeguarding the fundamental rights of each individual.

When a juvenile is tried is an adult, this means that their case is heard in the adult district court rather than juvenile court. The case is either “direct filed” into adult court, or “removed” to adult court.  If this happens, the case is heard according to the same rules applicable to charges involving a legal adult. The young person must be at least 12 years of age to be tried as an adult under Colorado law, and the case must involve grave charges such of being accused of a weapons-related felony or committing a violent felony. If you hear these phrases in connection with the case involving your child, call an attorney immediately!

What Happens If a Child is Arrested?

If a child is arrested due to suspicions that they are breaking state or local laws, the state is required to notify the individual’s parents. The individual may be released into the care of their parents or be held in a juvenile facility if they are suspected to have committed a serious case such as a weapons-related or violent crime.

When the juvenile is not released, they must go through a screening to determine the right placement, such as a juvenile detention center, shelter, family placement outside of the home, or other facility.  Even the juvenile detention centers have various levels of “security” (think minimum security vs. locked down prison-type facilities). In order for a juvenile to be kept in custody, they must receive a court hearing within a period of 48 hours to decide whether holding them is the appropriate course of action.

A diligent juvenile attorney could help parents or guardians navigate each phase of the juvenile court process and guide through the realities that often follow a juvenile crime.

What Happens If I Cannot Afford an Attorney for My Child?

In Colorado, all juveniles are entitled to an attorney to represent them in court.  That means that a public defender will be available to them the day that they are arraigned in court.  However, many public defenders are overwhelmed with their caseloads and in rural jurisdictions may even appear via tele- or video-conferencing tools.  Public defenders may or may not be able to speak with family and parents prior to the hearing, as well.

In the event that the child is released from custody, they will no longer receive a public defender without the parents reapplying for a free attorney and being found indigent.  In some situations, parents will not qualify for free legal help.  The Colorado legislature has determined that the juvenile should not be punished for the parent’s inability to pay.  In such circumstances, a parent can merely go into court and tell the judge they are refusing to hire an attorney (even though they supposedly have the means to do so), and the court is obligated to provide a court-appointed attorney—usually the public defenders or alternate defense counsel.

In many situations, court-appointed attorneys are likewise overwhelmed working many cases in juvenile court and unable to devote significant time to cases.  Although they are free attorneys, a private attorney may be a better fit for you and your child under the circumstances.  The attorneys at Nicol Gersch Law are well-versed in defending against juvenile criminal cases, and Justie Nicol was a juvenile prosecutor for several years, so she knows what it takes to be successful in juvenile court.

Possible Sentences

Juveniles who commit criminal acts are not awarded a free pass under Colorado law. The state categorizes felonies into six different classifications based in their severity. A class 1 felony conviction is the most severe and carries with it the gravest punishments, while Class 6 felonies could carry the lightest consequences. Misdemeanors are likewise classified for juveniles, just as they are for adults, with class 1 misdemeanors being most serious and class 3 misdemeanors being less serious.  The one benefit for juveniles is that most convictions—even felony convictions—can be expunged from their records after a sufficient waiting period, giving younger adults a clean slate.

A seasoned Front Range Colorado juvenile lawyer understands how a criminal record can reap long-lasting effects on the young person’s life long after their court case has concluded. Part of the intent of juvenile court is to offer flexibility with establishing penalties so that juveniles learn to abstain from criminal activities and avoid allegations that could see them back in court down the road.

Under C.R.S. 19-2-907, possible sentences for a juvenile conviction could include:

  • Probation
  • Fines
  • Restitution
  • Community services
  • Anger management or additional therapy programs
  • Time in a mental health facility or similar setting if treatment is required
  • Time in a juvenile detention facility or county jail

Contact a Skilled Colorado Front Range Juvenile Attorney for Assistance

A Colorado Front Range juvenile lawyer could examine every avenue of defense to present a strong case for your child. It may be possible to obtain restorative justice for your child, to help them avoid further arrests and live a more productive life moving forward. Contact a Front Range Colorado juvenile defense attorney today to find out what could be possible for your child’s case.