Colorado Juvenile Criminal Defense Lawyer
Introduction – What follows are some excerpts and summaries of common Colorado Juvenile Laws and situations. The actual statutes can be “Googled” online or located using the website: (Click Here).
Colorado Laws Regarding Parents’ Rights and Responsibilities for Juveniles
The “parent and child relationship” is the legal relationship existing between a child and his/her natural or adoptive parents. Within this relationship there are rights, privileges, duties, and obligations specified by law (19-4-103).
Justifiable Child Discipline in Colorado
It is justifiable and not criminal for a parent, guardian, or other person entrusted with the care of a minor to use reasonable and appropriate physical force upon the minor to the extent that it is reasonably necessary and appropriate to maintain discipline or to promote the welfare of the minor (18-1-703).
Juvenile Marrying Age In Colorado
If a minor over the age of 16 wishes to be married, he/she must have the consent of both parents if his/her parents are married or the permission of the parent with legal custody if they are not. If a minor under the age of 16 wishes to be married, he/she must have the permission of his/her parent(s) as outlined above, and the permission of the courts (14-2-106(I)).
Parental Civil Monetary Liability – Responsibility for Damage Caused By Their Children In Colorado
Parents can be held responsible for paying for damages caused by their children.
Any person, partnership, corporation, association, or religious organization is allowed to recover damages of not more than $3,500 in court from the parents of each minor who damages or destroys property or causes bodily injury (13-21-107).
Contributing To The Delinquency Of A Minor In Colorado (18-6-701).
Any person who aids or encourages a child to violate any federal or state law, municipal or county ordinance, or court order commits the crime of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. This is a class 4 felony (18-6-701).
Attend Juvenile Court Hearings
The parent, guardian, or legal custodian of the minor is required to attend all court proceedings concerning the minor. Failure to do so may subject the parent, guardian, or legal custodian to contempt sanctions (19-2-109).
Smoking Laws For Juveniles In Colorado
It is illegal for minors (those under the age of 18) to purchase tobacco products in the State of Colorado. Tobacco products include cigarettes, cigars, and chewing tobacco, and also every other kind of tobacco product prepared in such a manner that it might be chewed or smoked in a pipe or otherwise (39-28.5-101). Not only does this mean that it is illegal for a retailer to personally sell tobacco to a minor, it also means that the sale of tobacco products to a minor through a vending machine is prohibited (24-35-503).
If a minor does succeed in buying a tobacco product, he/she has committed a class 2 petty offense. If caught, the minor faces a $100 fine, or community service (amounting to $5 per hour spent serving the community until the fine is paid) (18-13-12(2a)). The person who sold the tobacco to the minor has committed a class 2 petty offense as well, and will have to pay a $200 fine if convicted (18-13-121(1)).
Colorado Vandalism Laws
Any county, city, town, school district, person, partnership, corporation, association, or religious organization is entitled to recover damages of not more than $3,500 from the parents of each minor who maliciously or wilfully destroys or damages property. Court costs and reasonable attorney fees may also be recovered (13-21-107(1)).
Criminal Mischief (18-4-501)
A person who knowingly damages the real or personal property of one or more other persons, including property owned by the person jointly with another person or property owned by the person in which another person has a possessory or proprietary interest, in the course of a single criminal episode commits a class 2 misdemeanor where the aggregate damage to the real or personal property is less than five hundred dollars.
Where the aggregate damage to the real or personal property is five hundred dollars or more but less than one thousand dollars, the person commits a class 1 misdemeanor. Where the aggregate damage to the real or personal property is one thousand dollars or more but less than twenty thousand dollars, the person commits a class 4 felony. Where the aggregate damage to the real or personal property is twenty thousand dollars or more, the person commits a class 3 felony.
….. BTW – Juveniles Lose Their Driver’s License For Vandalism
If the court determines on the record that the underlying factual basis for any conviction of criminal mischief pursuant to subsection (1) of this section, or adjudication as a juvenile delinquent for an act that would constitute criminal mischief pursuant to subsection (1) of this section if committed by an adult, involves defacing property as described in section 18-4-509, the offender’s driver’s license shall be revoked as provided in section 42-2-125, C.R.S.
If the court determines on the record that the underlying factual basis for a conviction of criminal mischief pursuant to subsection (1) of this section, or adjudication as a juvenile delinquent for an act that would constitute criminal mischief pursuant to subsection (1) of this section if committed by an adult, involves damage to a motor vehicle, as defined in section 18-4-409 (1) (a), the offender’s driver’s license shall be revoked as provided in section 42-2-125, C.R.S.
Juvenile Gang Laws In Colorado
Gangs and gang related crimes are no longer only found in big cities, but all throughout the state of Colorado
The Gang “Tag”
One way this is done is through the establishment of a computerized data-base which works to track known gang members and to assist communication between government agencies concerning gangs and gang activity.
This “Gang” data-base tracks:
•the person’s name, along with any other names he/she uses
•the person’s last-known address
•the person’s birth date
•information about times he/she has been arrested before
•information about his/her connection with the gang (24-33.5-415.3)
Common Gang Violence Criminal Charges
Assault in the first degree (18-3-202).
Drive-by violence is also usually related to gang activity. Those involved with such violence can be charged with assault in the first degree; which is a class 3 felony, unless it occurs in the sudden heat of passion – when it becomes a class 5 felony. It is assault in the first degree if a person commits the assault:
•with the intent to cause serious injury, such as if the person uses a deadly weapon
•with the intent to seriously and permanently injure another person’s body, the person causes injury
•while targeting a peace officer/firefighter with a deadly weapon while the officer is doing his/her duties
•while threatening the life of an officer of the court with a deadly weapon
•while threatening the use of a deadly weapon against a government employee in a detention center, a counselor, a youth services worker, etc (18-3-202).
Assault in the second degree (18-3-203)
Those involved with such violence may also be charged with assault in the second degree, which is a class 4 felony, unless it occurs in the sudden heat of passion – when it becomes a class 6 felony. It is assault in the second degree if a person:
•uses a deadly weapon with the intent to cause injury
•causes bodily injury to any person with the intent to prevent a police officer or other person of authority from performing his/her job
•causes bodily injury through the reckless use of a deadly weapon
•administers a drug, substance, or any other preparation capable of causing stupor, unconsciousness, or other physical impairment, without the person’s permission
•violently applies force to a police officer or other official while in custody
•causes an employee of the state working in a detention center to come into contact with any body fluids or excretions (18-3-203)
Anyone involved with a drive-by crime may also be charged with menacing. Menacing is when, by threat or physical action, one places another person in fear of serious bodily injury. If committed by the use of a deadly weapon, menacing is a class 5 felony; otherwise it is a class 3 misdemeanor (18-3-206).
Illegal discharge of a firearm (18-12-107.5)
Any person who fires a gun (of any kind) into any structure where there might be people, into any motor vehicle, or into any place where people live commits the crime of illegal discharge of a firearm. This is a class 5 felony. If a police officer fires into an occupied building while doing his job, it is not a crime (18-12-107.5).
Graffiti In Colorado
Any person who destroys, defaces, removes, or damages any historical monument commits a class 2 misdemeanor. Any person who defaces, aids in defacing, or allows the defacement of public or private property without the consent of the owner commits a class 2 misdemeanor.
Using paint, spray paint, ink, or any other substance or object to mar the surface of the property constitutes this defacement (18-4-509). The driver’s license or permit of any driver, minor driver, or provisional driver will immediately be revoked if said driver has been found guilty of property defacement (42-2-125(II)(n)).
If a person is said to be loitering, it means that he/she is standing around idly, lingering, delaying, wandering around, remaining, or tarrying in a public place. It is a class 1 petty offense for a person to loiter within 100 feet of a school building if school aged children are on the grounds or in the building, if the person has no business at the school (18-9-113). It is illegal for an individual or a corporation to intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly obstruct a highway, street, sidewalk, building entrance, or any other passage used by the public or a substantial group of people. Disobeying the request of a peace officer, firefighter, or a person of authority in his/her attempt to prevent such an obstruction is also illegal. These are class 3 misdemeanors (18-9-107).
Emancipation Of A Minor In Colorado
Colorado does not have an emancipation statute under which minors may petition a court for legal autonomy which would release them from the control and authority of their parents. No independent cause of action exists in Colorado for the emancipation of minors. The issue of emancipation is fact-specific to the situation and applicable law. Issues relating to emancipation may be addressed as part of a separate legal action before the courts such as a dissolution of marriage or child custody case; or directly by the state or local agency providing a service or benefit.
Emancipation for purposes of child custody obligations, specifically the termination of child support, is available on this site.
Age of Majority – Adulthood In Colorado
Colorado law (2-4-401(6)) defines a minor as a person who has not attained the age of 21, except as otherwise provided in the express language of another statute. The age of majority is the age when young people are considered adults for most matters. Colorado, as many other states, has determined the age of majority to be 18 years of age or older. Individuals are treated as adults at the age of 18, with some exceptions, such as drinking alcoholic beverages (12-47-901), renting cars, and purchasing a hotel room.
When an individual reaches the age of majority his or her parents are no longer liable for their child’s actions. Some acts young people who have reached the age of majority may be involved in are:
•entering into any legal binding contract (13-22-101(a))
•managing estate (13-22-101(b))
•to sue or be sued to the full extent (13-22-101(c))
•making decisions regarding his or her own body (13-22-101(d))
•voting in elections (Const. US., amendment XXVI)
•arbitrating a claim (13-22-202)
•consenting to medical treatment (13-22-102)
•joining the military without guardian permission
Even though the age of majority allows young people greater rights, many young people at age 18 still live at home and are thus subject to parents rules while at home.
Drugs and Youth In Colorado
Every year in Colorado many tickets are given to youth for drug related crimes. Three offenses that are often seen in Colorado courts are possession of marijuana (18-18-406), sale of controlled substances (18-18-405), and paraphernalia tickets (18-18-426).
Possession of marijuana is illegal in Colorado. Anyone who is caught using marijuana faces a $100-500 fine and/or 15 days in county jail (18-18-406(3)). If a young person is in possession of no more than 1 ounce, the penalty is a class 2 petty offense with a fine of no more than $100 (18-18-406(1)). If a young person is in possession of more than 1 ounce, but less than 8 ounces, the penalty is a class 1 misdemeanor and class 5 felony (18-18-406(4aI,II)).
Sale and Distribution
Manufacturing or selling controlled substances is prohibited in Colorado. Penalties range from misdemeanors to felonies, and are punishable by fines and jail time (18-18-405).
Paraphernalia tickets are often given to minors who are in possession of things such as:
•objects used to inhale controlled substances
•”roach clips,” screens, and punctured metal bowls
The penalty for being in possession of drug paraphernalia is a class 2 petty offense and punishable of a fine of not more than $100 (18-18-428).
Alcohol and Youth In Colorado
Persons consuming or in possession of alcohol must be of at least 21 years of age (12-47-901). In Colorado it is illegal to enter into a liquor store if under 21 years of age (12-47-901(b)). It is also a criminal act for adults to sell or give alcohol to any person under 21 years of age (12-47-901(1a)).
The majority of tickets given to underage drinkers are for the possession and consumption of “ethyl alcohol.” Ethyl alcohol is the definition for beer and liquor, and these tickets constitute more than half of underage tickets given (18-13-122).
Although Colorado law is extremely specific on the law regarding underage drinking, people still attempt to purchase alcohol. Some youth make fake ID’s by altering, defacing, or constructing illegal identification. This is a serious crime and punishable by fines, felony, and misdemeanor charges (12-47-901(IIA, IIB)). Even though drinking is illegal, there are some exceptions to the rule. An underage person may consume alcohol if they obtain permission from their guardians and drink on their private property.
Colorado Curfew Laws
Curfews are established to help deter crime and keep youth from getting into unnecessary trouble. Although there are no specific state statutes, many local governments have established curfews. These laws pertains to minors under 18 years of age who are in a public place past a certain time. Exceptions to this law are instances where minors are returning home from employment (they need to obtain a note from their employer), and youth returning home from an event such as a concert, organized meeting, or any other appropriate activity that has continued past the curfew. To see if there is a curfew set in your area, contact your local sheriff’s office.