Kids make mistakes. Some mistakes break the law. If your child was arrested, he or she is now in Colorado’s juvenile justice system. This is the end of many kids’ involvement with the law, and with an effective defense attorney helping your family, hopefully, that will be true of your child too.
If your child’s freedom and liberty are at stake, a criminal defense lawyer can be your family’s greatest ally. No matter what crime is involved, Kevin Churchill understands what this means for you, your child, and their future. We provide our clients with a powerful, high-quality criminal defense, no matter their age. Call us today at (303) 832‑9000 for a free, confidential consultation.
What is the Juvenile Court System?
Juvenile crimes can be very simple like truancy, shoplifting, possession of drugs, and underage drinking. They may also be very serious such as underage DUI, sexual assault, and other crimes of violence up to homicide.
Colorado’s juvenile court addresses issues when the defendant was younger than 18 at the time of the alleged act. Otherwise, the person goes to adult criminal court. The juvenile court focuses on rehabilitation, while the adult system is more about punishment and removing offenders from the public.
Could My Child Be Tried as an Adult?
In cases of serious felonies, including allegations of violence and sex offenses, someone 12 to 17 can be tried in adult criminal court. The case may start in either system. A juvenile court judge may transfer a case to adult court. The prosecutor may start it there and the parents could ask that the case be moved to the juvenile system. It’s in the child’s interests to be in juvenile, not adult, court. The penalties are not as harsh and there are fewer long-term consequences.
What’s the Process?
Parents are notified after their child’s arrest. If the violation is minor, your child will probably be released on a promise to appear in court. If the issue involves weapons or violence, your child will be held and the incident will be investigated.
When that’s the case, the juvenile court has a detention hearing where the judge decides if there’s enough probable cause to keep your child in custody. We can be at that hearing and argue for release. There may or may not be bail, your child may be released on personal recognizance, and there may be release terms that must be followed.
At the next hearing, prosecutors will tell the judge if they want to drop the charges and end the case, refer your child to a diversion program so they can attend rehabilitative programs, or press charges. Prior to this hearing, we will discuss the case with the prosecutor, show evidence we found that supports your child, and advocate that your child receive the least severe outcome possible given the circumstances.
If charges are pressed, the case enters the pretrial stage. The district attorney will offer a plea bargain in most cases. We will strongly argue our position and that the facts and law show that neither your child nor the community is best served by a trial, but a plea to a lesser charge and just consequences are the best outcome. There may be status hearings so the judge can be updated on the case.
If there’s an agreement, your child enters a plea. Then the judge will have a sentencing hearing. If the prosecutor isn’t reasonable and the facts are on our side, we’ll go to trial, and the judge will decide the outcome. We will protect your child’s rights and fight just as hard for their freedom as any of our adult clients.
If My Child is Convicted, What Might Happen?
Possible sentencing may include community service, psychiatric counseling, anger management, fines, probation, restitution, victim empathy counseling, a supervised work program, or a period of juvenile detention. Obligations may be imposed on you as well.
Can My Child’s Record Be Cleared?
Records will be immediately cleared, or expunged, if your child is found not guilty, the case is dismissed, or when the imposed sentence is served. Repeat offenders and those found guilty of violent crimes will not get their records expunged.
Why Should I Hire Kevin Churchill to Defend My Child?
The stakes of a juvenile case can be very high. In addition to possible long-term detention and the effect that can have on your child, offenders could be disqualified from scholarships or expelled from school or college. Colleges may not admit your child and admission to the military may be difficult or impossible.
Kevin Churchill has experience representing juveniles facing a wide range of allegations. You can trust him to do what’s right for your child and their future. Call us today at (303) 832‑9000 so we can talk about your situation, how Colorado law may apply, and how we can help.