When it comes to children and minors, they are at high risk for being either victims or perpetrators of a crime. From a victim standpoint, children are especially vulnerable and prone to attacks from adults and other kids or teenagers. On the other hand, when a child commits a crime, they are vulnerable to the far-reaching consequences that come with it. Not only in the matter of punishment for their crimes, but with the potential of repeating that type of conduct. Even small offenses might establish a habit or behavior that lasts into adulthood. Although there is no way to completely eliminate the possibility of your child committing a crime (or falling victim to one), the responsibility of parents and guardians in attempting to keep adolescents from slipping into either category is of paramount importance. As such, there are a few key steps that parents should take to help prevent juvenile delinquency in their child.
In this post, our Denver juvenile crimes attorneys at WeedenLaw will provide tips for parents about how to prevent juvenile delinquency.
Common Juvenile Crimes
Juvenile crime tends to skyrocket between the hours of 3 pm and 7 pm, which is when children are often left without adult supervision. This is typically the time frame when children are out of school and parents are still at work. Even the most well-behaved adolescents may fall into legal trouble if left to their own devices. This is because younger, undeveloped brains are particularly sensitive to peer pressure and often prone to making rash, careless decisions.
Juveniles are capable of committing any crime that adults commit, but there tend to be a few standouts among the types of crimes most commonly associated with minors. These include juvenile drug charges, shoplifting/retail theft, alcohol offenses, vandalism, trespassing, and assault.
In addition to these, sexually related crimes such as sexting, sexual assault, or statutory rape are also common. The seemingly uncontrollable hormones that rage in the adolescent body mixed with their naive sense of invincibility makes these crimes especially prominent in teenagers. Colorado’s age of consent laws require that individuals (regardless of the gender of either party) be 17 to consent to sexual intercourse, but there are exceptions. Minors aged 15 and 16 can legally engage in consensual sex with those less than 10 years older Those younger than 15 may engage in consensual sex provided their partner is less than four years older.
How to Prevent Juvenile Delinquency
If your child is over the age of 10 but under 18 and they are accused of committing an illegal act, they will most likely have their case handled by the Colorado juvenile justice system. Under certain conditions, there is a chance that they may be tried as an adult, but this is typically for extremely serious and dangerous crimes.
Every case and child is different, but there are certain things that parents and guardians can do to prevent juvenile delinquency. By taking these steps through childhood and adolescence, parents can help their children grow to be happy, healthy, and responsible adults. Below, we’ll list 5 essential tips that parents can follow for how to prevent juvenile delinquency.
1. Communication is Key
We can’t stress enough how important it is to have an open and honest relationship with your child. It might be tough to talk to your child about topics like drug and alcohol abuse, sex, and crime, but it is one of the most critical stages in avoiding juvenile delinquency. If you don’t discuss these concerns with your child, he or she will almost definitely learn about them via classmates or the media. You should make certain that your child is aware of your rules and expectations for them, as well as the potential penalties for breaking them.
2. Get Involved in Their Life
Being involved in your child’s life can be difficult, especially when they are teenagers and seemingly want nothing to do with you. However, it is important that you spend as much quality time together as possible. You don’t want to be too pushy to where you drive them away, but try to find a good balance between giving them privacy and still being involved in their life.
Between your own busy schedule and theirs, it may seem impossible to find time to spend together on a regular basis, but it is important to at least make that effort. Things like helping with their homework, taking them to a sporting event or a movie, or simply watching a favorite television show with them can make all the difference. You may model appropriate conduct for your developing son or daughter during this time. It also allows you to learn more about their hobbies and activities, answer questions, and encourage them to come to you in times when they may be struggling.
3. Pay Attention
Keep an eye out for red flags and prevalent criminal tendencies among today’s teenagers in your region. Become knowledgeable about local gang insignia, popular narcotics, and signs of drug use and intoxication. Also stay alert to your child’s mental and emotional wellbeing, as internal distress can significantly contribute to them acting out or rebelling. Learning how to spot these potential red flags in your kid can allow you to intervene quickly before something goes terribly wrong.
Learn more about Colorado Juvenile Crimes: What Parents Should Look For here.
4. Encourage Participation in Safe Hobbies and Activities
You never want to force your child to be involved in something they don’t want to do. Instead, play to their interests and talents by helping them become involved in activities that cater to those. Involvement in afterschool clubs and extracurricular activities may help your kid feel more driven, involved, and accepted while also keeping them in a safe and supervised setting. Children who feel like they belong to a community and are actively engaged in a hobby they enjoy are far less likely to be exposed to criminal activity.
5. Be a Parent, Not a Friend
While it is important that your child has a close and open relationship with you, make sure you aren’t trying to be their friend before you are their parent. If your child gets into problems at home, school, an extracurricular activity or event, or a friend’s house, don’t be afraid to be tough on them. Set standards and expectations for your child as well as consequences if they do not meet them, then stick firmly to it. Appropriate discipline can help adolescents understand that they can’t get away with bad behavior. This is an essential lesson for parents to learn because at the end of the day, the Colorado criminal justice system will be considerably tougher on your child when it comes to punishing their adolescent misbehavior.
Solutions for Juvenile Delinquency
Unfortunately, there is no way to completely prevent juvenile delinquency. However, by molding your child’s views, morality, and awareness of the law, you may play a significant part in deterring them from engaging in illegal behavior.
If your child does end up on the wrong side of the law, however, you ultimately have two choices. You can let them suffer the consequences of their crime by whatever the courts deem an appropriate punishment, or you can acquire an experienced juvenile defense lawyer to get them out of trouble and back on the right side of the law.
Colorado’s objective in juvenile sentencing and justice proceedings, according to the state, is to help young offenders rehabilitate rather than penalize them. While that seems fair, sometimes things like juvenile detention end up doing more harm to your child than good. You owe it to your child to put up the best defense possible if you want them to have a more promising chance at a happy, successful life after being accused.
Colorado juvenile defense attorney Jeff Weeden can help you with this. At WeedenLaw, we have successfully represented a number of juvenile defendants across the state. Our lawyers understand what it takes to work toward positive resolutions that will not jeopardize the long life your child has ahead of them. Special skills and sensitivity are critical in these types of cases, and we strive to work both with the defendants themselves as well as their families.
Expungement for Juvenile Crime
The second someone gets arrested or charged with a crime, the incident goes on their criminal record. If you are convicted, that will go on there as well. Same if you are acquitted or if your case is dropped or dismissed. Put another way, even if someone is wrongfully arrested and their lawyer is able to convince the prosecutor that they do not deserve to be charged, there will still be a record of the arrest. Anyone who conducts a background check will be able to see these records: employers, landlords, banks, prospective romantic partners, etc.
Thankfully, there is a way to get rid of these records in certain situations. In Colorado, this is the process known as record sealing for adults and expungement for juveniles. There are a number of qualifications and requirements for getting your record sealed or expunged in our state. It is not something that everyone has access to, but luckily, it is much easier for juvenile offenders than it is for adult offenders. With juvenile offenses, pretty much anything can be expunged – arrest records, court records, and even convictions.
For assistance in the expungement of a juvenile crime, contact Denver expungement attorney Jeff Weeden.
Juvenile Crime Attorneys Near Me
When it comes to hiring a juvenile criminal defense attorney, there’s no such thing as too soon. The sooner you can enlist their help, the greater your child’s chances of avoiding a legal fight that may inevitably result in harsh punishments like hefty fines, grueling community service hours, or time spent in juvenile detention.
When you hire Jeff Weeden, you’ll get a legal professional who has experience in both Colorado state and federal courtrooms. He regularly takes on a variety of juvenile cases, from petty offenses to assault crimes, which means he knows exactly what to expect in juvenile court. For more information on how to prevent juvenile delinquency, or to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Colorado criminal defense attorney, fill out our simple online contact form or call 720-307-4330 today.
More information for parents: My Child Just Got Charged: What Colorado Parents Need to Know.