The Juvenile Justice System was created to address how children between 10 and 18 years old are treated when they violate municipal or state laws. The Children’s Code was put in place to sanction juvenile offenders, while also trying to keep in mind the best interests of the juvenile, his victims and the greater community at large.
In Colorado, parents are legally required to be present for any questioning, and the juveniles are entitled to a prompt hearing to determine if they should still be detained or if they can return home with their parents. After the detention hearing, the prosecution has 72 hours to file charges. The juvenile justice system moves quickly, and that is why it is imperative that you consult with an experienced Colorado juvenile defense attorney as soon as possible. You must act quickly to do the best possible job of protecting your child’s rights. It is advisable to speak with an attorney before volunteering your child to speak with police for any reason.
In some courts, prosecutors and judges may hand out adult-type punishments for certain juvenile offenses, but in many others, the focus is on attempting to rehabilitate juveniles based on the notion that they are more amenable to rehabilitation than adults.
It’s been proven through science that the brain is not completely formed, including the ability to reason accurately, until a person is in their early to mid- 20s. That means that juveniles and young adults are less likely to have the capacity to calculate the consequences of their actions and more likely to be driven and influenced by their peers and societal pressures.
The Supreme Court has acknowledged this reduced capacity to reason accurately, specifying three general differences between adults and juveniles:
Depending on the crime, juveniles will probably face some combination of rehabilitation and punishment. In cases where serious violence is involved, a prosecutor may ask the court to try the juvenile as an adult. This is why it is important to have a skilled attorney in your corner as early as possible. The prospects of being tried as an adult are daunting and can carry a much harsher punishment than those connected with juvenile punishments.
Generally, when a juvenile goes to prison, known as the Division of Youth Corrections (DYC), the maximum sentence is two years. But the sentence can be as much as five years if certain aggravating criteria is met. While juvenile prisons seek to rehabilitate, they are largely used to punish the juvenile.
Colorado lawmakers have mandated sentences for some types of juvenile offenders who have previously run afoul of the law: