- Recognition of serious consequences for Juveniles
- Encouraging parental involvement in decisions
Juvenile court adjudications (technically not a “conviction”) no longer carry a free pass when the juvenile turns 18. Juvenile delinquency adjudications now can have long-term, even life-long, ramifications, especially those for felony-level or sex-related charges. And any juvenile adjudication can be brought up later by the DA to be used against the defendant as an adult, if the defendant is a suspect in a new crime.
An additional critical factor in Larimer County at this time: The DA here has sometimes taken the position that any juvenile who helps or encourages another juvenile to commit even a petty offense or misdemeanor crime, particularly alcohol offenses like minor-in-possession of alcohol, is guilty of the FELONY offense of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Historically, only adults were charged with the offense of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, but now any juvenile who participates with another juvenile in a crime is potentially exposed to felony-level consequences. I strongly encourage parents of juveniles to seek competent legal advice from my office or another attorney before talking with the police or making decisions regarding investigations or charges faced by their child.
A “juvenile” for purposes of prosecution under Colorado law is anyone from age 10 to 17 who is suspected of criminal conduct. They have most, but not all, of the rights of an adult charged with a similar crime.
I have represented juveniles in charges ranging from simple vandalism to attempted murder. I encourage my juvenile clients to seek the advice and wisdom of their parents when deciding how to proceed in their case. Parents usually have a good feel for what will work for their child. However, it is important to remember that there is no absolute privilege for parents not to be called as a witness against their child. Be cautious about asking your child to admit to you what he did, unless you are in the presence of an attorney who is representing the child.