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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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I have been an attorney for 18 years. I have seen Jeff Wolf in court handle a large variety of criminal defense and protection order matters with the highest degree of professionalism and effectiveness. Jeff is not only intelligent and incredibly timely and efficient, but also carries a wide scope of wisdom and experience; there is nothing he has not seen.

I know if I refer friends or clients to him, they will be in strong capable hands with an attorney who truly cares and is a great advisor. I have also seen Colleen Kelley in major felony hearings in court and she is a force to be reckoned with.

When I needed an attorney for my own legal situation, I retained Jeff and his firm. I witnessed first-hand how competent and reassuring Jeff and Collen are as attorneys and counselors, but from the perspective of a client. Superb attorneys, but also the best people. When I am unable to accept a criminal case, I often refer the potential client to the Wolf Law LLC.

— Anon, Esq.

I Recommend Jeff Wolf to Anyone Needing Legal Defense

I retained the services of Jeff Wolf after I received a DUI. During the free consultation, Jeff reviewed his services and the details of what would happen before, during and after my trial. He was very thorough, supportive and diligent in ensuring all my questions were answered. I am thrilled with the level of service he provided for an extremely reasonable fee. Jeff was accessible and reassuring throughout this entire process. The end-result of my hearing was exactly what I had expected based on Jeff’s counseling. This is a direct result of his knowledge and experience with the court and the system. I was very impressed with his closing presentation in court and his professionalism and felt that the judge reduced my fines and my sentence because of Jeff’s efforts. I have already recommended him to two other people and will continue to recommend him to anyone requiring the services of a defense attorney.

— Monty

Professional and Knowledgeable

I cannot be happier with Jeffrey Wolf’s representation in my court case. He was very direct, no time wasted. Very professional, and above all very knowledgeable and qualified as an attorney. I was facing felony charges that were unfounded and Mr. Wolf saw the truth immediately, believed in me despite the allegations and got all charges dismissed. He always kept me informed and current with his progress, and offered very sound advice. I also would consider him a friend as well. I highly recommend Mr. Wolf to anyone needing serious legal counsel.

— Bill F.

Expedient, Thorough and Effective

Fortunately, I don’t find myself needing legal representation often…only once before have I needed an attorney. My situation was interesting…I was given a disorderly conduct summons and felt it was far beyond the pale in terms of its validity. I didn’t want this on my record and needed help navigating the legal process. I did some research on a few attorneys and read about Jeff Wolf’s practice. I called Jeff and we spoke the same day. He listened to me and I met with him a few days later. He took the time to explain his process and approach, which made sense to me and seemed to be in the right dollar range for what we were dealing with. Thankfully, my case was dismissed. Jeff took the time to show the DA that there were inconsistencies all over the place and that there was no way I was guilty…likely shouldn’t have even been issued a summons. As I said to Jeff, I hope I never have to talk with him again, but I won’t hesitate to call if need be.

— Christian

5 Stars

Was super helpful and always available anytime that I reached out. He was thorough and did everything that he could to help me out with my high BAC case. There isn’t a silver bullet out there and you likely won’t be lucky enough that somehow the charges go away, so your best bet is to sit with a consultation with Jeff and get your legal defense going ASAP as you work on the items that you can control (education/therapy/MADD panel) and let him handle the court items

— Casey

Great Attorney

I contacted Mr. Wolf through a reference from a separate out-of-county attorney’s office. I was very pleased with his professional attitude and staff, but mostly the results he was able to achieve for my case. I would definitely recommend Jeff and hire him again if I ever need to.

— Jeremy

Colleen is one of the best!! Goes Above and Beyond

I had to use legal services regarding a personal matter and I contacted 3 other lawyers. Colleen was the only one who took time to understand the issue but only explain legally how it can be addressed.

Also, I was surprised when she got me the desired result but she kept moving forward to make sure I had material for a potential criminal case. It shows that she cares and understands legal strategies.

— Anonymous

Thanks for your help

Cassandra Monahan helped me get the best results I needed for my case. I highly recommend! Much appreciated!

— Melissa

Mr. Wolf Blew My Expectations Out of the Water

After recently facing two relatively serious traffic violations, Mr. Wolf was able to obtain an outcome for my case that far exceeded my expectations. From the initial consultation onward, Jeff was extremely professional, punctual, and confident. Jeff clearly defined our objectives and provided me with some serious peace of mind. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Mr. Wolf’s services to any family member or friend in need and couldn’t be more pleased with his representation!

— Michael

Understanding, Patient, Helpful

Working with Jeff was the best choice I could have made for my circumstances. Not only did he take his time in hearing my side but also those around me. This allowed me to take care of myself as I moved through the legal process and provide the best results possible. Thank You for all the Help Jeff!!

— Anonymous