While juvenile cases are handled differently than their adult counterparts, the penalties can seem just as severe. The consequences can include fines, probation, detention in a youth corrections facility, and even jail in some cases.
Colorado’s juvenile justice system is meant to “assist the juvenile in becoming a productive member of society,” according to the Colorado Children’s Code.
However, the reality of navigating the juvenile justice system is quite different. Juveniles and their parents face a variety of challenges following a juvenile delinquency charge, some of which can last for years.
To learn more about Colorado’s juvenile system, read on below. And if your child is facing juvenile criminal charges, don’t hesitate to speak with a juvenile defense attorney at Wolf Law.
Juvenile Offenses and the Justice System
Juvenile offenses in Colorado include truancy, curfew violations, and underage possession of tobacco, alcohol, or marijuana.
The penalties for juvenile offenses might include:
- Public service
- Probation or detention at a youth corrections facility
- Attendance at a substance abuse education program
- Driver’s license restrictions
- Placement with the Department of Human Services
- Restitution to the victim
If the act committed is a felony or a violent crime, the penalties are much more severe. Minors may even face trial as an adult in some cases, based on the severity of the offense.
Penalties for juvenile offenses can vary and may be assigned on a case-by-case basis. Sentencing also depends on repeat offenses, or if the child has been on probation or previously detained.
The Colorado Children’s Code doesn’t aim to strictly punish a child for their offense; instead, they try to improve a child’s environment or parental supervision, as well as reduce the rate of recidivism (a person’s relapse into criminal behavior).
The Aftermath of Juvenile Delinquency Charges
While Colorado’s juvenile justice system aims to improve a child’s circumstances, or correct their behavior early to avoid future offenses, the aftermath of juvenile delinquency charges can be difficult to navigate.
If sent to a youth correctional facility, kids can face a chaotic environment, frequent solitary confinement, and violence, even at the hands of staff.
Until recently, Colorado’s Division of Youth Corrections used “the wrap,” a device similar to a straitjacket to restrain youths. The Wrap can cause numbing, pain, and psychological damage.
In addition to the trauma a minor may face, the consequences of a juvenile delinquency charge can last through to their adult years. Depending on the violation, points on a driver’s license can last for one year, or even result in automatic license suspension. That also means auto insurance rates will likely increase. Along with fines, this added financial burden can be tough for families.
Plus, when it’s time for your child to start applying to colleges, their juvenile criminal offenses can come into play. Questioning an applicant’s criminal background is a standard part of college applications in Colorado, and throughout the rest of the country.
For example, the University of Colorado’s admission policy requires criminal or disciplinary histories to be disclosed. Applicants must provide detailed evidence and supplemental information about their offense, conviction, and any other relevant documentation. After review, they may not be considered eligible for admission.
How a Juvenile Crimes Attorney Can Help
A seemingly small mistake made at a young age can have serious ramifications for your child down the road. That’s why you need a criminal defense lawyer experienced with juvenile offenses to help you mitigate (and hopefully reduce) the effects of these charges.
A skilled attorney can protect your child’s rights, help you understand you and your child’s legal options, and represent your child in court if needed.
Facing criminal charges can be intimidating and overwhelming for families. We at Wolf Law understand this, and we work to achieve the best outcome for juveniles and parents when it comes to juvenile offenses.