A youth – someone under the age of 18 (although each state defines it differently) – who commits a misdemeanor or felony in Colorado Springs is typically charged as a juvenile defendant. Their criminal case is then held in the juvenile justice system. There are exceptions, of course. A youth may be charged as an adult depending on the seriousness of the crime or a juvenile’s criminal background. If that happens, the penalties are more severe.
At Sawyer Legal Group, our juvenile defense attorneys in El Paso County understand that perhaps more so than anyone, juveniles need a strong defense. Their entire futures are at risk, especially in terms of employment and education. If you’re a parent, contact us today at 719-377-3544 to schedule a free consultation – keeping your child’s record clean and making sure their futures are not at risk is imperative.
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Common Juvenile Crimes in Colorado Springs
Juvenile crimes are those committed by someone under the age of majority. The specific age of majority under criminal law varies between states, although it is often 18 years of age.
Generally, juveniles can be charged with the same offenses as adults. Common offenses committed by juveniles include:
- shoplifting or theft
- vandalism (criminal mischief)
- violent crimes like assault
- possession of drugs or alcohol
- sex offenses
The main difference between the two systems is the sentencing options available to the court. The juvenile justice system emphasizes rehabilitation. It offers alternative sentencing options such as counseling or education programs and can send defendants to a juvenile detention center rather than a county jail or state prison.
Juvenile Defense in Colorado Springs
Juveniles Tried as Adults in Colorado Springs
When a juvenile defendant commits a crime, they’re usually then tried as a juvenile. In certain circumstances, however, their case can be transferred to the adult system.
The specific criteria for this varies between states. Relevant factors may include:
- the type and extent of the offense
- the seriousness of the allegations
- any aggravating circumstances (perhaps the use of a weapon)
- whether the defendant understood the criminal extent of their conduct
- whether the defendant is a repeat offender
The decision to transfer a juvenile case to the adult system can be made automatically as a result of the relevant legislation or at the discretion of the prosecution or judge. Additionally, once a juvenile defendant has been tried as an adult, any future charges will also be dealt with in the adult system.
When a juvenile case is dealt with in the adult system, the defendant is exposed to harsher penalties usually reserved for adults. It also excludes them from some sentencing options, such as counseling or education programs offered to juvenile offenders.
Colorado Springs Juvenile Lawyer
Collateral Consequences of an Adjudication in El Paso County for a Juvenile Offense
In addition to the penalty imposed by a court, there can also be collateral consequences for defendants convicted of juvenile offenses.
A criminal adjudication can disrupt a defendant’s schooling, especially if they serve time in juvenile detention. A conviction can also affect their access to education more generally. Some schools may not accept students with a criminal record and many colleges ask applicants to disclose any juvenile adjudications.
While many people believe juvenile criminal records “disappear” once someone becomes an adult, this isn’t the case everywhere. For example, potential employers and landlords may have access to juvenile records when running background checks. The armed forces also require applicants to disclose any juvenile adjudications.
Law enforcement and courts may also access juvenile records when dealing with an adult offender, which can increase both the category of offense they are charged with and the severity of their sentence.
Convictions for certain offenses as a juvenile may also require a defendant to register as a sex offender or restrict them from owning a firearm well into adulthood.
Your Rights for Juvenile Arrests in Colorado Springs
Both minors and their parents or legal guardians have rights when a minor is arrested Colorado Springs or asked questions as a witness in a criminal matter. When a right is violated, this violation can be used as part of your defense strategy. This why it is critical to speak to a juvenile defense attorney in Colorado Springs as soon as possible.
Your Child Has Rights in Colorado Springs
The U.S. Constitution, as well as most state constitutions, outline certain rights for each person, whether a juvenile or an adult. These rights include but aren’t limited to:
- the right to be free from any unreasonable search and seizure
- the right against self-incrimination
- the right to refuse questioning and remain silent
- the right to an attorney during police questioning
Furthermore, when a minor is detained or arrested, the police typically have an obligation to contact a parent or legal guardian, or at least make a reasonable attempt to do so.
Parents Have Rights in El Paso County
As a parent or legal guardian, you have rights in cases where your child has been arrested or detained by the police. Three such rights include:
- the right to be present with your child during questioning
- the right to know the reason your child was arrested or detained
- the right to have or retain an attorney for your child
As a parent or guardian, it’s always in your child’s best interest to remain calm. You can request to see your child at any time while the child is in police custody.
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Contact a Juvenile Defense Attorney in Colorado Springs Today
We know that as a parent – and for that matter as a minor – you will have many questions and even more concerns and fears during a criminal case. At Sawyer Legal Group, our juvenile defense attorneys will sit down with you to explain elements you need to know, keep you informed during the process, and fight for your child’s future.
If your child is facing criminal charges as a juvenile, seek experienced representation that can help navigate the criminal system. Any mistakes could have long-lasting impacts on your child’s life. Call 719-377-3544 to speak with a juvenile defense attorney now.