It’s back-to-school season for Colorado teens, and that can mean trouble with the law if your child gets involved in the wrong type of activities. In this post, we’re going to list some of the most common crimes that juveniles get accused of committing, as well as how a qualified attorney can help if your child gets into trouble.
Common Juvenile Crimes in Colorado
Teens commit crimes for all sorts of reasons. Boredom. Peer pressure. Behavioral problems. Sometimes they may not even be directly involved, but they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Even if you wouldn’t expect your teen to get in trouble with the police, juvenile charges are more common than you might think.
Here are the most common types of crimes that juveniles tend to engage in:
- Damaging a mailbox
- Disturbing the peace
- Egging a car or building
- Graffiti or tagging
- Keying vehicles
- Slashing tires
- Toilet-papering property
- Indecent exposure
- Violating curfew
- Hanging onto a moving car
- Operating a vehicle without a license
- Operating a vehicle without the owner’s permission
- Riding in the bed of a pickup truck
- Failing to wear a seatbelt
- Leaving the city or state without a parent’s permission
- Possessing stolen property
- Resisting an officer
- Calling a false alarm
- Committing identity theft
- Making harassing phone calls
- Simple assault
- Using a fake ID
- Possessing or distributing alcohol
- Possessing or distributing illegal drugs
- Possessing or distributing tobacco
- Possessing a weapon
Many of those you probably can’t imagine your child ever participating in. You may be surprised that others on this list even count as crimes because they seem like harmless childhood fun or pranks.
Unfortunately, your feelings on what your kid would or wouldn’t do or what should or shouldn’t count as a crime won’t really amount to much if you get a call from the police saying they have picked him or her up, which is why it is so important to be aware of the many things adolescents and teens can get in trouble for.
If your child has been accused of committing any of these offenses, an experienced attorney can help you navigate the legal road ahead. With a skilled lawyer’s help, your teen may be able to receive alternative sentencing or other rehabilitative consequences rather than being admitted into the juvenile justice system.
Colorado Juvenile Justice System
Most parents don’t really have a clear idea of how the juvenile system works. Unlike the adult criminal justice system, the Colorado juvenile justice system aims to rehabilitate young people rather than incarcerate them in most cases.
After the charge is made, your teen will be taken into custody. In many cases, a judge will offer alternative sentencing. This may involve community service hours, restitution, treatment programs, and/or rehabilitation courses. Often these sentences involve mandatory probation periods and court-enforced counseling.
If your child has been accused of a more serious crime, such as assault or drug trafficking, he or she may be tried as an adult. Each case is unique. The judge will take many details into consideration, including whether your child acted with criminal intent.
You can expect the following process to unfold in the Colorado juvenile justice system.
- Citation or Custody
Depending on the level of the crime, your child will be either issued a citation or taken into juvenile custody.
A juvenile probation officer will accept your child’s case. He or she will assess the level of risk. If the risk is low, your child may be sent home with you. If the risk is elevated, your child will be held in a juvenile detention center.
- First Hearing
Your child will appear before a judge in the juvenile court system within 24 hours of being taken into custody. At this hearing, a judge will determine whether your child should receive alternative sentencing or be tried as an adult.
- Second Hearing
After the initial hearing, your child will appear at another hearing. At this hearing, the judge will make a ruling on whether your child is delinquent. If not, your child will likely receive a probationary sentence. If so, the judge will set the parameters for the length of your child’s stay in a juvenile detention center.
Obviously, this isn’t something that any parent – or juvenile – wants to have to go through. Unfortunately, as our brains aren’t fully developed until our twenties or early thirties, minors don’t always make the best decisions.
That’s why it is so important for parents to know what kind of trouble their kids are more likely to get up to and keep an eye out for any signs that it might be going on. You are their first line of defense in avoiding mistakes that could lead to trouble with the law and negatively impact their future.
About the Author:
Since 2005, Jeffrey L. Weeden has been practicing criminal defense law in Colorado and has helped countless clients protect their rights and freedoms as a respected, caring, hard-nosed criminal defense attorney. Over the course of his career, Mr. Weeden’s work has been recognized in numerous ways, including being named to the Top 100 Trial Lawyers list by The National Trial Lawyers, earning a 10.0 “Suberb” Avvo rating, receiving Martindale-Hubbard’s highest peer review rating — AV Preeminent, and being asked to speak on several issues of interest to the legal community. Additionally, he is someone who cares deeply about his community and those in need, and is an active member of a number of professional legal organizations, including the Rocky Mountain Children’s Law Center and Law Firm Pro Bono Coordinators.