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If your child is facing criminal charges in Colorado, a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer can guide your family through the complex juvenile court system and may be able to help your child avoid or limit the impacts of a conviction.

The Denver defense attorneys at Wolf Law understand that juvenile criminal charges can have life-changing consequences, and we have successfully represented young clients in a wide range of criminal cases.

Please call us today at 720-479-8574 for a free case evaluation or contact us online to tell us your story now. 

Juvenile Criminal Charges in Colorado

Policeman questioning witnesses during crime investigation
In Colorado, “juvenile delinquency” applies to the criminal acts of minors between the ages of 10 and 18.

In Colorado, the term “juvenile delinquency” is used to describe the criminal acts of minors between the ages of 10 and 18.

Most criminal charges faced by minors in Colorado are processed through the state’s juvenile courts system, and potential penalties include fines, probation, detention in a youth corrections center, and jail time.

Some types of misconduct can only be classified as criminal when committed by a juvenile. These include:

  • Curfew violations
  • Truancy
  • Underage possession of alcohol, marijuana or tobacco

Certain drug-related offenses are under the jurisdiction of county courts, even if the individual charged is under 18. These include:

  • Minor in possession of alcohol or marijuana
  • Minor in possession of drug paraphernalia
  • Advertisement or sale of drug paraphernalia
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs

There are rare circumstances in which a minor may be moved from juvenile court to district court and prosecuted as an adult. In Colorado, a juvenile may be tried as an adult as young as age 12 if the charges relate to a class 1 or class 2 felony.

Colorado Juvenile Offender Categorizations

Juveniles charged with crimes in Colorado may be assigned a category that affects their sentencing and other factors, such as eligibility for the expungement of juvenile records. These designations include:

  • Mandatory Sentence Juvenile Offender: Under Colorado law, a juvenile must be sentenced if he or she has been adjudicated (the equivalent of being convicted) as a delinquent twice or if his or her probation is revoked.
  • Repeat Juvenile Offender: This designation applies to juveniles who have been previously adjudicated for a delinquent act and are subsequently adjudicated for a felony, or juveniles whose probation is revoked for a delinquent act that constitutes a felony.
  • Violent Juvenile Offender: Offenders age 13 and older may be deemed violent if they were adjudicated for a crime of violence (for example: causing bodily injury or death to another person; sexual assault; aggravated robbery; kidnapping; etc.).
  • Aggravated Juvenile Offender: Juvenile offenders who are at least 12 years old may be designated as aggravated offenders if they were adjudicated for a class 1 or class 2 felony, or if they had their probation revoked for a delinquent act that constitutes a class 1 or class 2 felony, or if they committed a violent crime.
  • Habitual Juvenile Offender: This category applies to juvenile offenders who are twice adjudicated as a juvenile delinquent for separate felony episodes.

Prior adjudications can affect a juvenile’s bail, probation eligibility, and penalty severity, and they may also be used in a request to transfer a minor from juvenile court to district court if the youth is facing class 1 or class 2 felony charges.

Penalties for Juvenile Criminal Charges

Cropped view of teenage boy in handcuffs, leaning against car.
Penalties for Colorado juvenile offenders range from fines to jail time.

Penalties for juvenile offenders in Colorado include but are not limited to:

  • Fines
  • Probation
  • Community service
  • Enrollment in a therapy or rehabilitation program
  • Placement in a juvenile detention center
  • Jail time

When it comes to juvenile delinquency, Colorado tries to emphasize rehabilitation over punishment. Colorado’s Problem Solving Court, for example, offers a non-traditional approach to criminal justice. It’s designed in part for minors who have special needs following drug addiction.

First-time juvenile offenders may be eligible for deferred prosecution via enrollment in a diversion program. Diversion programs are similar to probation and may require community service, counseling or other assignments.

Penalties are not limited to those imposed by the court. Additional consequences juvenile offenders may face include:

  • Suspension or expulsion from school
  • Loss of employment or the ability to obtain certain jobs
  • Loss of access to public benefits (such as food stamps)
  • Loss of the right to own firearms

Colorado’s Division of Youth Corrections

An unhappy teenage girl receiving a speeding ticket from a police officer.
Some juvenile charges, such as driving under the influence, fall under the jurisdiction of county courts.

Juvenile detention is administrated by Colorado’s Division of Youth Corrections (DYC) within the Department of Human Services (DHS).

Detention requires mandatory screenings and assessments to determine risk factors. Minors can be detained in a secure facility for up to 45 days while awaiting court hearings or during a court-ordered detention sentence. Minors ages 10 to 18 are eligible for detention. Between 2015 and 2016, 5,034 juvenile males and 1,476 juvenile females were detained in Colorado.

Colorado’s Youth Offender System (YOS) is a medium-security prison for violent youth offenders who commit class 3 through 6 violent felony offenses. Minors age 14 to 18 are eligible, as are adults up to age 21.

YOS offenders have been prosecuted, convicted, and sentenced as adults. Even those who complete the program bear a permanent, adult felony conviction. There were 61 admissions to YOS in 2017; nearly half were Denver youth.

Juvenile Criminal Records

Juvenile criminal records are generally well protected, but they are still accessible to some individuals and entities. Those who may be granted access to juvenile criminal records include:

  • Parents and legal guardians
  • Schools
  • Law enforcement
  • Child protective services

In some cases, juvenile criminal records may be available to the general public. It’s also important to note that the expungement of a juvenile’s criminal record is not automatic when the individual turns 18.

A request for an order of expungement must be filed in court, and some juvenile offenders—for example, those adjudicated for a violent crime—may not be eligible for criminal record expungement.

The Denver criminal defense attorneys at Wolf Law are compassionate advocates for youth who are confronted with criminal charges. To learn how we may be able to help your child, please call us at 720-479-8574 or contact us online to arrange your free consultation.

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Had the chance to work with Colleen Kelley and found her not only to be a great attorney, but also someone who will fight for you! Highly recommend her…

— Tom S.

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When I was arrested for DUI/careless driving, I was overcome with a profound sense of hopelessness – I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep, and I thought my life (including my career) was ruined. Making the decision to call Mr. Wolf for a consultation was the best decision I could have made. His immediate response set my mind at ease and gave me a the peace of mind that I so desperately needed.

Upon meeting him in person, I was thoroughly impressed by his experience and expertise, but what really struck me was his personable demeanor and genuine interest in helping me. He was very patient in explaining the legal process and made sure I was well prepared for every step of the way.

There is no doubt that his representation and advocacy, as well as the advice he had given me in order to prepare for court, resulted in an outcome that was more positive than I had dared hoped for (a DWAI with license intact and a reduced probation sentence), allowing me to move forward with my life. Mr. Wolf far exceeded my expectations, and I would absolutely recommend him to anyone seeking legal counsel.

— Anonymous

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Jeffrey Wolf has been a beacon of hope to me when my situation seemed limited and unlikely of a positive outcome. He represented me for a DUI and as a domestic violence victim and did a phenomenal job on both. Not only was he able to defend and represent me, but his empathetic and ethical demeanor offered hope to myself and someone I truly care about. My partner and I are eternally grateful for his service, and I hereby recommend him without hesitation since I could not imagine a better result without him representing me.

— Marisabel

Deferred Sentence, Sealed Record For Pot Possession

In July of 2009 I was charged with possession of marijuana. I contacted Jeff with Wolf Law and worked with him to find my best options. Jeff was very knowledgeable, honest and professional. He worked quickly and effectively to get me a deferred sentence and ultimately seal the record of this infraction. I also had a prior charge that was many years old that was also a deferred sentence. Jeff worked to seal that record in order help maintain my privacy. I now have used this ability to change my field of work and pass a background check with no infractions visible on my record. My life is moving onward and upward due to the help that was provided by Wolf Law. Thank You Jeff!

— John

Jeff Wolf was Well Worth the Investment

When you get charged with a crime it is tough to deal with, mostly because you are embarrassed and disappointed with yourself for what you have done. I was charged with theft and was very worried about what type of impact that would have on my business professional career when applying for jobs. I contacted a few lawyers but knew that Jeff was the right direction to take. He made me feel more at ease knowing that people make mistakes and that this would not effect my whole life. He was very helpful and quick to respond to any questions or concerns that I had.

During my time with Jeff he made me feel very comfortable and I knew going into everything what to expect, what to say, and how to present myself. Whether you hire a lawyer or not is your own decision. But to me what Jeff was able to provide was well worth it. I literally told him my story, how I felt and what type of outcome I was looking for on the first day. Besides showing up with him to court he did everything else and took care of everything. We were sentenced to the verdict that we were looking for and now I can move forward and put this case behind me. Thanks for all your help Jeff it was much appreciated.

— Nick

Highly Recommend Wolf Law for DUI Cases

I hired Jeff Wolf to represent me for a DUI and accident involving damages. While I knew I was 100 percent in the wrong, Jeff never once made me feel like a terrible person for making a mistake. He quickly responded to emails and always called me back quickly when I had questions (I had a lot of questions). I’ve never been in trouble with the law before, and Jeff was patient in explaining everything thoroughly to me throughout the entire process, and was also able to get my sentence reduced. I recommend him to anyone going through a similar situation.

— Emily

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Jeff took on 2 cases for me with complete success. He is extremely sharp and confident. Jeff really gets to know his clients and is very sympathetic to their needs.
The relationships he has with prosecutors and the judges was pure respect. When he spoke he had the ears of the courtroom. He speaks very eloquent and exudes confidence that translates into the result I was looking for, “Case Dismissed.”

I highly recommend his services. If you are need of his services you will get more than what you pay for.

— Steven L.

Wolf Law is your best option!

I’ve had the privilege of getting Jeff Wolf to represent me in my 1st DUI case. He did a great job explaining the case, the possible outcomes and overall getting good results. I highly recommend his services to anyone who has any moving violation infraction perhaps more and want to have the best results in court. Thank you Jeff.

— Marco

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I was worried about looking for a lawyer because I have never done so before, but Jeff Wolf made it super easy for me and I couldn’t have been more happy with his services. He called me anytime something happened with my case or needed anything from me. He got me out of a 10 day jail sentence which really helped me since I started school this week. Honestly it was nothing but a professional and honest experience.

— Robert A.

Highly Professional

Jeffrey Wolf handled my traffic violation in a highly professional manner, giving it the same consideration and time as a more challenging case, during a very stressful time in my life. As soon as the accident happened, he was there to offer advice and help. He went to court for me, so I would not have to take time off of work to go. His care and concern for my well-being was top-notch. Thank you so much, Jeff!

— Carol P.