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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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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.

My Experience with Wolf Law

I am nothing but pleased with the service, trustworthiness, advice, compassion, and hard work that Wolf Law has provided me with. My case lasted for about six months in 2019. I had charges regarding the developing laws concerning marijuana in Colorado. Originally I wasted four months with a lawyer who made the already stressful and unfortunate situation ever more challenging and miserable. It was a blessing to meet Jeff! He was able to reach a resolution with the Colorado Springs DA that would allow me to have a chance in the future. Every step of the way he was patient, present, persistent, and a pleasure to work with. I drove all the way from Colorado Springs to find a lawyer that would fight for justice to the best of their ability and Jeff Wolf was that person – a person who cares about his clients and their lives. He did his job without judgment and exuded understanding and encouragement throughout. It is difficult to find people who are willing to genuinely help others and keep them positive. My hope is that if you find yourself in a situation where you are seeking legal counsel, please give Jeff’s firm a call. I cannot thank him enough for his kindness and work through this difficult time.

— S.M.

I Was Lucky to Have Jeff Represent Me

After a referral from a friend, I was lucky enough to have Jeff represent me in a domestic violence case. I found Jeff to be extremely professional and experienced in his field. This being my first experience with the court system, he took the time to explain the process and my options in terms I could understand. I never felt like he was forcing me to take one option over another, he clearly explained each one and, while giving his recommendation, left it up to me as to which decision I felt would be the best for me and my family.

I am very pleased with the outcome of my case and would highly recommend Jeff to anyone in this situation.

— Melissa

Beyond the Best

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

Highly Recommended!

Mr. Wolf is an incredible attorney to work with. My father and I have spent some time over the past 10 years with him, and have always seen fantastic results from different types of situations. He is very intelligent, honest, and diligent about any work brought his way.

I highly recommend Mr. Wolf and will call him first, anytime I need legal advice or representation!

Thank you Jeff!

— Greg

I Will Definitely Hire Mr. Wolf Again

I turned to Wolf Law for help after a small bumper ding in a Starbucks parking lot escalated once the Denver PD was involved. Jeff expertly stepped in to keep the matter from getting any more complex, including speaking with a Denver Police Officer who seemed intent on imposing the most severe charges possible. Jeff continued his zealous representation of my case in Traffic Court where he worked out a reduction in the ticket with the Denver City Attorney and also eloquently explained the situation and the facts at hand to the judge, resulting in a reduction in the fine. Wolf Law exceeded my expectations on this case and managed to keep me calm about the severity of the charges throughout the process. I would highly recommend Wolf Law to anyone and everyone, and if I ever have the need, I will definitely hire Mr. Wolf again.

— Gil S.

Ms. Kelly was a professional rock for us!

We found ourselves in an unimaginable situation with criminal charges pressed against my husband relating to a firearm. We were both petrified. Especially with the gun climate we find ourselves in. Neither of us had ever been in trouble with the law and after a terrible accident, we found just that. Ms. Kelly is extremely professional and knowledgeable of the legal system. She took the time to explain everything to us and prepare us for what would follow.

We are happy with the outcome of the case and would highly recommend Ms. Kelly to anyone who may find themselves in our situation.

— The Taylors

The Best!

Jeff is very professional, knowledgeable, and as good of a lawyer as there is. I had a restraining order full of false allegations, and Jeff got everything dismissed. Even though it was a restraining order, Jeff treated my case as important as any other case. Thanks, Jeff!

— Anonymous

Jeff Helped Me Feel Safe Again

I would highly recommend attorney Jeffrey Wolf. He consistently demonstrates knowledge and professionalism, both in and out of the courtroom. His expertise helped me to understand the legal process. As a victim of domestic violence, I looked to Mr. Wolf to assist me in obtaining a restraining order. His compassion combined with skill helped me to feel safe again.  I reached a positive outcome in my case and felt informed, confident, and cared for with Mr. Wolf in my corner.

— Karen

Informative, Kind, Helpful: Can’t Thank Him Enough

My experience with Wolf Law was excellent. I am a full time college student and Mr. Wolf was beyond helpful to me, and provided me with all of the information I needed. He is very kind and always available for questions and support. I can’t thank him enough for all of his hard work.

— Marisa