Recent Developments with Juveniles in Criminal Law Proceedings

Daniel Noffsinger - Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Under Colorado law, a person under the age of 18 is considered a juvenile when charged with a crime. The juvenile criminal defendant appears in juvenile court. Colorado’s Juvenile Court has jurisdiction over juveniles over the age of 10 up to 17 years of age. At 12, a Colorado juvenile is eligible to be tried and sentenced as an adult if the child is accused of committing a class 1 or 2 felony or crime of violence. The proceeding is then transferred, or if the criminal defendant is 16, direct filed with the District Court. In the last year there have been a number of developments with respect to juveniles in criminal law proceedings. The following post will review the most significant of the developments.

Federal Law Changes Impacting Juvenile Offenders

In late January 2016, President Barack Obama announced a ban on solitary confinement for juvenile offenders in the federal prison system. He cited the potential for overuse of the practice along with devastating long term psychological consequences to the practice. In fiscal year 2015, 13 juveniles nationwide were placed in solitary confinement.

Colorado Law Changes Impacting Juvenile Offenders

Three bills became laws that directly affect juvenile encounters with the criminal justice system. Specifically, a minor can avoid criminal prosecution for minor offenses if the juvenile and his or her parents enter into a contract, cyber-bullying became a crime and was added to the established harassment laws, and juveniles serving time for 40 years to life sentences can now accrue time.

House Bill 15-1022 - Concerning juveniles charged with certain minor offenses

For a juvenile 10 years of age or older alleged to have committed a petty offense, the bill allows a peace officer to issue a petty ticket requiring the juvenile to appear before a law enforcement officer, an assessment officer, or a screening team (screening entity). If the screening entity finds certain conditions have been met, the screening entity shall offer a petty offense contract to the juvenile and his or her parent or legal guardian. If the juvenile satisfies the conditions of the contract, the prosecuting attorney shall not file charges with the court.

House Bill 15-1072 - Concerning harassment through an interactive electronic medium

The bill makes changes to the harassment statute to cover situations in which a person uses an interactive electronic medium to harass another.

House Bill 15-1203 - Concerning earned time for those serving life sentences as habitual offenders

Under current law, an offender who was sentenced to a habitual offender 40-calendar-year life sentence before July 1, 1993, is not accruing earned time. The bill permits those sentenced under those circumstances to accrue earned time.

Contact a Colorado Springs Juvenile Criminal Defense Attorney

If your child or adolescent has been arrested or is involved in a criminal investigation or proceeding, contact Noffsinger Law, to schedule a free consultation to evaluate your child’s case. Located in Colorado Springs, we will address your inquiries and provide advice and counsel on your child’s available defenses. Visit us online or call (719) 368-3688 to schedule your case evaluation without delay.