Colorado’s Juvenile Criminal Law BasicsToday, the Iyer Law Office in Denver will explain Colorado’s juvenile criminal law basics to you. We know how hard it is for you and your family to be facing a legal charge that involves your child, but the more you know about the legal process, the less intimidating it is to go through.

Let’s look at Title 19 of the Colorado Revised Statutes, which is the Colorado Children’s Code.

What kinds of cases do juvenile courts have jurisdiction over?

The Colorado juvenile courts have jurisdiction (CRS  § 19-1-104) over these cases:

  • Delinquency
  • Dependency / neglect
  • Determination of parentage or paternity
  • Relinquishment of parental rights / adoptions
  • Child support
  • Consent to marriage
  • Enlistment
  • Employment when consent is required by law
  • Treatment / commitment of mentally ill or developmentally disabled children
  • Truancy
  • Custody / guardianship of children who are under juvenile court jurisdiction

What does juvenile delinquency mean and include?

Delinquency is a legal term for criminal behavior carried out by a juvenile. Delinquent behavior is divided into two categories: status offenses and delinquency offenses.

  • Status offenses are those acts that would not be considered offenses if committed by an adult, such as school truancy, running away from home, alcohol possession or use, or curfew violations.
  • Delinquency offenses involve destruction or theft of property, the commission of violent crimes against people, illegal weapon possession, or the possession or sale of illegal drugs.

If you are convicted of certain crimes when you are a juvenile and you are an illegal alien or a legal resident but not a U.S. citizen, you could also be deported or denied continued legal status in the U.S. by Homeland Security (Immigration Department – ICE).

The Juvenile Delinquency laws are complex and you need Denver Juvenile Crimes Attorney V Iyer who is knowledgeable in these areas and can help you avoid the pitfalls of these unique laws, and can provide your child a vigorous defense.

What are the common terms used in juvenile criminal proceedings?

The following terms are defined for juvenile delinquency law (juvenile criminal code):

Adjudicatory Trial – Determines if the allegations of a petition in delinquency have enough evidence.

Adult – A person eighteen years of age or older with some exceptions.

Delinquent Act – A violation of the law over which juvenile court has jurisdiction.

Detention – Secure custody in physically restricting facilities until sentencing.

Guardian ad Litem – Someone appointed by the court to act in the best interest of the juvenile.

Juvenile – Someone under eighteen and committing a delinquent act.

Juvenile Delinquent – A person found guilty of committing delinquent acts.

Sentencing Hearing – Determines juvenile delinquents’ sentence.

Shelter – Physically unrestricted facilities that temporarily cares for a child until the court’s disposition is decided.

What are the rights of juveniles in police custody?

Like adults, the Miranda rights apply to juveniles who are in custody and who the police want to question. The juvenile and their parents must be told of these rights:

  • The right to remain silent
  • Any statement made by the juvenile may be used against them in a court of law
  • The right to have an attorney present during the interrogation
  • The right to have an attorney present during questioning, if requested at the time of interrogation.
  • If the person cannot afford a lawyer the court will appoint one.

Once the Miranda warning is given, the police cannot question the juvenile without the presence of his or her parent, guardian, or legal or physical custodian unless the right to be present is waived in writing by the juvenile and the appropriate responsible adult acting for the juvenile.

What are the search and seizure and consent to search laws for juveniles?

Juveniles who are not under arrest or in custody can refuse to let the police search their personal belongings. On the other hand, a juvenile can consent to a search without a parent, guardian, or legal or physical custodian present.

Keep in mind, that after a juvenile is arrested, they cannot refuse to be searched and whatever evidence is found on them can be used against them. However, the police must get a warrant or establish an exception to the warrant if they want to search the juvenile’s vehicle or closed belongings. A car owned by the parents and the child’s room in their home may be searched without a warrant if the parents give their consent.

The court can appoint counsel for the juvenile and the parents may be required to pay for it.

(CRS § 19-1-105(2))

Can school officials search a juvenile and their property?

A search of a juvenile and their property at school by school officials is allowed if:

  • There are reasonable grounds for suspicion that the search will uncover evidence that the student has violated or is violating either the law or the rules of the school;
  • The subsequent search is reasonably related in scope to the purpose of the initial intrusion.

What happens at the hearing after arrest and detention?

If a juvenile is taken into custody, they are entitled to an initial hearing on whether or not their arrest and detention were valid.

The state must prove two things at the hearing:

  • An offense was committed
  • There was reasonable cause to believe that the accused committed it

To continue the juvenile’s detention, it must be proved that the juvenile is:

  • A danger to himself or herself or others
  • Likely to run away if released (or)
  • Has a past record that warrants detention

An attorney may be assigned and a petition in delinquency may be filed.

At the hearing, the judge can order these things:

  • A juvenile to be released to the custody of a parent, guardian, or legal or physical custodian, with or without the posting of a bond (as part of the conditions of release, some juveniles are allowed to go home if they wear an ankle monitor)
  • A juvenile to be placed in a shelter facility or placed with the county Department of Human Services in lieu of a bond
  • A juvenile may be released on a summons
  • Bond can be denied and the juvenile detained if they are a danger to themselves or to the community

The delinquency petition describing the charges against the juvenile are required to be filed after 72 hours of the detention hearing.

What happens at the Colorado juvenile advisement hearing?

After the filing of the delinquency petition, the juvenile and his parents are notified in writing to come to court where the juvenile’s constitutional and legal rights are explained and they are asked to enter a plea to the charges.

What does an adjudication (conviction) mean?

A juvenile may knowingly and voluntarily enter a plea of guilty or a plea of not guilty and set the matter for trial before a judge or a magistrate.

A juvenile is entitled to a jury trial only if they are a violent or aggravated juvenile offender.

If there is a plea of guilty or a finding of guilt at trial, the court can either enter an order adjudicating a juvenile to be a delinquent or defer the entry of an order of adjudication on certain conditions with the consent of the prosecutor.

What is delinquency sentencing?

At the sentencing hearing, the judge can order the following (one or more):

  • Commitment of the juvenile to the Department of Human Services for no more than two years for most juveniles, but up to seven years for the most serious offenders with a mandatory period of parole of at least six months
  • If the juvenile is eighteen years of age or older at sentencing, the judge can send them to county jail or to community corrections
  • Up to forty-five days of detention
  • Placement with a relative or other suitable person or into the custody of the county department of social services
  • Probation
  • Placement in a hospital
  • Imposition of a fine
  • Order the juvenile to pay some form of restitution to the victim(s)

First-time offenders may be offered juvenile diversion, an alternative to formal prosecution designed to keep juvenile offenders out of the court system, yet hold them accountable for any wrongdoing. If the juvenile successfully completes diversion, then they will not have any conviction record, and will not be required to pay any court fines or court costs.

Juveniles facing serious charges, or juveniles facing less serious charges but who have prior criminal records, may face detention or probationary sentences of up to two years. The most severely delinquent youth can be sentenced to the Department of Youth Corrections (DYC) for up to two years. A court may order that the child be committed to Department of Human Services, placed with social services, placed in a hospital, or order the child to complete anger management treatment or any other appropriate treatment program.

Now that you have some insight into Colorado’s juvenile criminal law basics, you may better understand the tough road ahead in your juvenile’s case. We strongly recommend getting in touch for a free case evaluation. Before opening the Iyer Law Office in Denver, V Iyer was a respected deputy district attorney who successfully prosecuted thousands of county and district court cases. He now uses this knowledge of the prosecutor’s point of view to develop robust legal defenses for his clients. If you want the very best defense, simply get in touch today.


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