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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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Best Possible Outcome Thanks to Wolf Law

When I walked into the office I was at a low point I can’t describe. When I talked to Jeffrey Wolf I wanted to hear, “Don’t worry, you’re going to be fine.” Instead I was told the honest truth: I was in serious trouble, but he would fight like crazy to get me the best possible outcome. After thinking about that I realized it was far better to hear the truth rather than a lawyer trying to get my business, and in the end I got exactly what Jeff said: Good advice, an excellent professional defense, and I believe the best possible outcome I could have wanted. I highly recommend Wolf Law.

— David R.

6-Month Jail Sentence Reduced to 90 Days

I was arrested in May 2014 for a warrant that I had since 2010 for DUR, I was facing a six month jail sentence that would have caused me to lose my business, home, as well as once again re-offend me. After countless calls and conversations and meetings with numerous attorneys I was referred to Jeffery Wolf. By simply speaking with him over the phone I felt a little at ease, until I met with him and after that I was completely at ease. He made feel the way an attorney is suppose to make a client feel. He was extremely personable, caring, honest, completely honest, and very detailed as to what his process is and what will take place in court.

On the day of my hearing Jeff arrived a little early and had me wait in the hallway while he stepped into the court room and went to bat for me. The result was a 0 point violation allowing me to keep my DL, a six-month jail sentence reduced to 90 days in-home detention, and a $67 fine, which was way more than I expected.

I highly recommend Jeff he is an excellent attorney that takes your case as serious as you do. I hope I never have to hire an attorney again but if I do without a doubt Jeffrey Wolf will be my first and only thought.

— David

I Couldn’t Have Asked for a Better Lawyer

Until the night of my DUI, I had never been in trouble before so one could only imagine how scared I was. Facing a DUI with a possible felony/assault charge, I honestly wasn’t sure how I was going to get through it all. I happened to find Jeffrey Wolf through another lawyer. After meeting with him in person, I knew immediately that he was going to help me. I was a complete wreck from day 1 and yet he made me feel at ease with every meeting, phone call and court appearance.

One of the traits I appreciated most was his honesty. Mr. Wolf told me straight up from the beginning what could happen and what I was facing but reassured me that he would do everything he could to get me through it with the best outcome. Having him there with me through this process and through every court appearance with him by my side made it easier to handle and I am so grateful to have worked with him. At the end of it all, I was able to get probation with a deferred judgment on my case. I would absolutely refer Mr. Wolf to any of my friends and/or family!

— Nichole G.

Jeff Wolf Cares About You as a Person

Jeff Wolf is extremely timely, reliable, and efficient. He cares about you as more than just another case, he cares about you as a person. Jeff worked with me on my out-of-state case and went above and beyond to ensure that I received the best possible outcome.

— Anonymous

Expert Help

I am glad that I was referred to Jeff. His capable counsel turned a really big mess into a straightforward procedure. All my contacts with the entire staff at Wolf Law were outstanding. Jeff was able to explain very complicated proceedings in a way that made sense and allowed me confidence that I was fully prepared. Jeff’s professionalism both inside and outside the courtroom was an immense help during a tough time. Legal troubles are very stressful, and it is important to have someone working for you with the experience and knowledge to be able to help. Jeff provided that and more: never feeling lost in the situation was an added benefit that was priceless. I would highly recommend the team at Wolf Law.

— John B.

Representation by Jeff Wolf

Counselor Wolf was very professional, and each time we met to discuss my case he was patient and explained what we could expect and what might happen through each step in my proceedings. Counselor Wolf presented himself as very knowledgeable, confident and professional throughout our dealings in this matter. Thank you Jeff, I appreciate your attention to detail and adept representation.

— Jack O.

First Rate Legal Representation

If one were to Google all the attributes that you want in legal representation, Wolf Law would check off each box. His entire staff is helpful and professional. As for Mr. Wolf himself, his expertise and straight-talk are exactly what you want and need in an attorney. The outcome of my case matched my most optimistic goal. I thoroughly endorse Wolf Law.

— Trenton

Wolf Law is Well Worth the Investment

Thanks to Jeff Wolf I had the ideal outcome on my case, whereas without any representation it would’ve been a less than desirable outcome without me even fully knowing my options. He was extremely informative and thorough; it was clear that not only did he know what to do for every scenario but I was confident that he would make it happen, which he did. Very personable and easy to trust, I highly recommend Jeff and Wolf Law.

— Jeff H.

Wolf Law Office Amazing team!!!

I had been referred to Jeff from a family member and sure glad I was. Jeff takes his time to make sure I was aware of what is going on. Very kind and professional, great at what he does on helping people. Thank you Jeff for all your hard work.

Also thank you to Cassandra for also handling the DMV side I can’t tank you enough for helping me with that also.

— Jordan M.

Good Outcome

Mr. Wolf offered excellent service, fast responses and prompt communication. I was so relieved that he was willing and able to take my case. He and his team are very professional and got me the best possible outcome.

— Brian