Juvenile Law

In Colorado, juveniles can be charged with committing criminal acts, called delinquent acts. The juvenile justice system is different than the adult system, but the consequences can be just as significant.

Minors are processed through the system much faster than adults, often requiring more frequent court appearances to reach a speedy resolution.  Because the system attempts to quickly resolve cases, it is important to contact a lawyer early in the process.  Our attorneys are compassionate and will never judge.  All of our attorneys are former prosecutors who worked in the juvenile justice system, giving us insight into how the prosecution may view a case.  This unique perspective allows us to effectively analyze the facts of a case, negotiate a plea bargain, defend your child at trial and navigate the system once the case has been resolved.  If your child has been adjudicated for a delinquent act, our attorneys can help you complete the expungement process.

In the adult system, there is a prosecutor and defense attorney. Very rarely is there involvement from other individuals. In the juvenile system, there is often involvement from other individuals.  Do not confuse these other individuals for a defense attorney.

  • Social services may intervene and file a dependency and neglect case against one or more of the parents.
  • The guardian ad litem (GAL) represents the child’s best interests, which is different from your child’s legal rights.
  • The defense attorney’s job is to protect your child’s legal rights as they relate to the criminal charges.

The juvenile justice system is focused on rehabilitation, but the focus on rehabilitation does not remove the potential consequences of being charged with a delinquent act.  In some situations, there are particularly harsh consequences.

Direct Filing

In some cases, the prosecution may seek to file charges against a juvenile in adult court.  This process is called direct filing.  It is unusual for the prosecution to direct file against a juvenile.  A juvenile must be at least 16 years old and there are only certain types of crimes that qualify for direct filing.  If a case has been direct filed, there is a procedure to request the court to transfer the case to juvenile court.

Special Offenders

If your child is deemed a special offender they may be removed from the home.  There are several types of special offenders, including mandatory sentence, repeat, violent, and aggravated juvenile offenders.

Mandatory Sentence Offender

A juvenile is classified as a mandatory sentence offender if he or she has been adjudicated for a delinquent act twice and is subsequently adjudicated for a delinquent act.

A juvenile may also be classified as a mandatory sentence offender if he or she has been adjudicated for a delinquent act AND if his or her probation has been revoked for a delinquent act AND is subsequently adjudicated a juvenile delinquent OR has his or her probation revoked for a delinquent act.

Repeat Juvenile Offender

A juvenile is classified as a repeat juvenile offender if he or she has been previously adjudicated for a delinquent act AND is subsequently adjudicated for a delinquent act that constitutes a felony OR if his or her probation is revoked for a delinquent act that constitutes a felony.

Violent Juvenile Offender

A juvenile is classified as a violent juvenile offender if he or she is adjudicated for a delinquent act that constitutes a crime of violence as defined by law.  In Colorado, the law classifies certain felonies as crimes of violence.  Most, but not all, felonies that involve serious bodily injury or death and/or a deadly weapon are crimes of violence.

Aggravated Juvenile Offender

A juvenile is classified as an aggravated juvenile offender if he or she is adjudicated for a delinquent act that constitutes a class 1 or 2 felony or has his or her probation revoked for a delinquent act that constitutes a class 1 or 2 felony.

A juvenile is also classified as an aggravated juvenile offender if he or she is adjudicated for a delinquent act that constitutes a felony AND is subsequently adjudicated for a delinquent act that constitutes a crime of violence OR has his or her probation revoked for a delinquent act that constitutes a crime of violence.

Finally, a juvenile is classified as an aggravated juvenile offender if he or she is adjudicated for a delinquent act OR has his or her probation revoked for a delinquent act that constitutes felony level unlawful sexual behavior, incest or aggravated incest as defined by the law.

Expungement of Records & Appeals

Expungement of records applies to juvenile adjudications, as well as juvenile cases that were dismissed or when the court or a jury reached a not guilty verdict.  If the outcome of your child’s case was satisfactory, but you would like to reduce the negative impact of the conviction or adjudication, you may want to expunge, or erase, the juvenile adjudication from your child’s record.  Not all delinquent acts can be expunged and there are timelines that control when your child’s record is eligible for expungement.  Juvenile records are not automatically expunged.  Specific pleadings must be filed with the court to expunge the records.  Contact us to assess whether your or your child’s records are eligible for expungement and to help you complete the process.

If the outcome of your child’s case was not the desired result, your child has the right to appeal just like an adult.  Appeals are very time sensitive and there are no exceptions to the deadlines, so if you are considering an appeal contact us as soon as possible.