One of the scariest and most confusing events a family can face is when a child is accused of a crime. Suddenly a police officer wants to interrogate your son or daughter and search their bedroom. Your immediate instinct may be to cooperate with the authorities because it is important for our children to learn accountability. However, before you make any decision that affects your child’s future, it is critical that you get advice from attorneys who understand the juvenile justice system and can help navigate your child through it.
Even though your child is under 18, he or she could face adult penalties depending on the crime they are charged with. If your child is accused of certain serious felony crimes, the district attorney can “direct file” his or her case into adult district court. If your child is convicted, they will have a permanent felony conviction on their record and can be sentenced to an adult prison. Despite attempts to reform this practice in Colorado based upon recent psychological studies, the decision to direct file a child into district court is completely controlled by the district attorney and is not subject to judicial review.
If your child’s case remains in juvenile court, there are consequences to a finding of guilty that you need to be aware of. A child can be held at a detention facility if the court believes they are a danger to themselves or others. This can happen even before the charges are resolved. A child can be sentenced up to 45 days at the detention facility as a term of probation. If your child is placed on probation and violates the terms, they can be committed to up to 2 years in the Division of Youth Corrections. If they are over 18 at the time of the probation violation, they can be sentenced to up to 6 months in the adult county jail.
A person under 18 still has rights regardless of the charges against them. They have the right to plea not guilty and request a trial. Constitutional protections against unreasonable searches still apply. Fort Collins juvenile attorneys, Jeff Schwartz and Kirk Waible, have both represented hundreds of children in juvenile court as well as children direct filed in adult court. Mr. Schwartz has defended several children at trial accused of serious crimes. Mr. Waible represents children as a court appointed guardian ad litem in delinquency as well as dependency and neglect cases. While most cases can be resolved through negotiations with a reasonable prosecutor, there are situations that require challenging the district attorney’s accusations against your child. Our Fort Collins juvenile attorneys have the litigation skills and experience to make sure your child’s rights are protected.
Before you consent to law enforcement and the courts getting involved in your child’s life, contact Fort Collins juvenile attorneys, Schwartz and Waible, to help you understand the complex choices and pitfalls that are built into the juvenile justice system.
Contact Fort Collins juvenile attorneys Schwartz & Waible at firstname.lastname@example.org
Fort Collins juvenile attorneys, Schwartz & Waible, also serve the following locations throughout Colorado: Greeley, Loveland, Windsor, and Wellington.