Visit Our Blog
Read Out Blog
Case Evaluation
Charged With A Crime?

Colorado Juvenile Criminal Delinquency Defense Law and Issues – How Is It Different

By Colorado Criminal Lawyer H. Michael Steinberg – Colorado Juvenile Delinquency (Juvenile Criminal) Law

This is a multiple part series about Colorado Juvenile Law and Defense Issues – which includes –

A Comparison of Juvenile Court and Adult Court Criminal Cases – The Similarities

While there remain fundamental differences between the juvenile justice system and the criminal justice system, there are similarities.

The juvenile court system is an adversarial system that procedurally and substantively parallels the adult criminal court system. Children are adjudicated in juvenile court for alleged violations of many of the same misdemeanor and felony statutes that adults face in criminal court. For the most part, juvenile court applies rules of procedure and evidence that are substantially similar to adult criminal court rules.

The consequences of a delinquency adjudication can be severe and lifelong, similar to an adult criminal court conviction. Despite the distinctions between juvenile dispositions and adult sentences explained below, the Colorado criminal defense lawyer should not underestimate the serious nature of a delinquency proceeding and a finding of delinquency.

Depending on the jurisdiction and individual facts, the defense lawyer must understand that the child may be placed in secure care, receive adult sentences, and/or have their juvenile records used against them in subsequent court proceedings (for example, to enhance sentences for later prosecution in adult court).

Despite the original intentions for confidentiality in juvenile court proceedings, the adjudicated delinquent face similar biases, prejudices and limitations as those imposed by criminal convictions.

The Differences of Juvenile and Adult Criminal Cases

One of the primary goals of the juvenile justice system remains largely rehabilitative in focus, whereas the purpose of the criminal justice system is nearly exclusively punitive.

The criminal justice system may seem to have largely abandoned the responsibility of rehabilitation of offenders and  “Get tough” legislation has increased the number of children who are tried as adults, but I believe the juvenile system still espouses the ideals of treatment and rehabilitation.

Parents/guardians/caretakers play a much greater role in the juvenile justice system.

Because children do not have the same rights and responsibilities as adults, their parents / guardians / caretakers have an increased role in delinquency cases.

Juvenile justice dispositions include a range of options unavailable in criminal sentencing.

Juvenile dispositions are expected to meet the treatment needs of individual children in the least restrictive environment possible or, at least, to balance treatment considerations with community safety concerns. Therefore, dispositions can include a wide range of supervision, treatment, and alternative programs instead of incarceration.

Juvenile court commitment or probation periods usually end by the juvenile’s 18th birthday, when the juvenile court ceases to have jurisdiction over dispositions in delinquency matters.  However, Colorado has adopted a “blended sentencing” statute or “extended juvenile jurisdiction” (EJJ) designations in juvenile court, under which a juvenile is eligible to receive a juvenile disposition and an adult sentence.

There are legal issues related to the juvenile justice system that are irrelevant to adult defendants in the criminal justice system. Contributing to the complexity of juvenile defense work is the fact that juvenile criminal defense lawyers  must not only concern themselves with delinquency representation, but also with related civil or administrative proceedings, such as special education hearings, school disciplinary hearings, and abuse and neglect proceedings.

While these proceedings demand additional research and specialization by the defender, they also provide excellent opportunities to supplement the criminal defense lawyer  discovery and investigation in the pending delinquency case and may allow the lawyer to shift the juvenile  away from juvenile court jurisdiction altogether.

The Experts That Surround Colorado Juvenile Courts

Psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, sentencing advocates, educational specialists and others are invaluable resources in many juvenile delinquency cases and can be useful at almost every stage of a juvenile court proceeding. Not only can these collaborations assist the juvenile criminal defense lawyer in developing a strong defense according to the juvenile’s needs – but these professionals have the expertise to identify and help address many of the issues the criminal defense lawyer faces.

Mental Health Professionals In Colorado Juvenile Court

In the pre-adjudication context, mental health professionals can identify behavioral, emotional, or learning disabilities and help secure services in the community that may render detention unnecessary. Mental health professionals can also educate and advise the criminal defense lawyer  about child development stages and abilities in order to improve communication with the juvenile. At adjudication, a mental health professional may testify about the juvenile’s  competency and/or whether he had the requisite mental state (mens rea). Finally, at disposition, these professionals can help design a plan that will address the underlying problems and provide the Colorado juvenile criminal defense lawyer with a viable alternative to a sentence of incarceration

The Involvement of Social Workers In Colorado Juvenile Court

Social workers can support the defense strategy in a delinquency case with information obtained by documenting the client’s psycho-social and educational history. A social worker is also capable of providing treatment assessments and recommendations, as well as facilitating the provision of community-based resources for the client and family. The Colorado juvenile criminal defense lawyer may be able to consult with the social worker for advice and referrals.

Education Specialists In Colorado Juvenile Court

Education specialists can assist in addressing the juvenile’s educational needs and facilitate the process of getting a special education assessment, if warranted. Improving the juvenile’s educational situation can have a huge impact on the defense lawyer’s case and the court.

Other Evaluators and Professionals In Colorado Juvenile Court

Many children come to juvenile proceedings with existing evaluations from other court matters, such as neglect, custody, divorce, probate, and status offender proceedings. A lawyer should obtain any existing evaluations both for use in court and to inform case strategy; however, direct contact with evaluators or service providers may be even more helpful.

By calling the evaluator, not only may the lawyer can gather valuable insight into the juvenile and his case, but the lawyer may also find that the counselor would be a good witness in support of the juvenile’s release or could provide a helpful letter at disposition. In the alternative, the juvenile criminal defense lawyer valuable time by discovering that the evaluator has information that is harmful to the juvenile s criminal case.

Please Call:

H. Michael Steinberg has been a Colorado criminal law specialist attorney for 30 years. For the First 13 years of his career, he was an Arapahoe – Douglas County District Attorney Senior  prosecutor. In 1999 he formed his own law firm for the defense of Colorado criminal cases.

In addition to handling tens of thousands of cases in the trial courts of Colorado, he has written hundreds of articles regarding the practice of Colorado criminal law and frequently provides legal analysis on radio and television, appearing on the Fox News Channel, CNN and Various National and Local Newspapers and Radio Stations.  Please call him at your convenience at 720-220-2277

If you have questions about Colorado Juvenile Mental Health Evaluations in the Denver metropolitan area and throughout Colorado, attorney H. Michael Steinberg will be pleased to answer those questions and to provides quality legal representation to those charged in Colorado adult and juvenile criminal matters.

In the Denver metropolitan area and throughout Colorado, attorney H. Michael Steinberg provides quality legal representation to those charged in Colorado adult and juvenile criminal matters.


Other Articles of Interest:

If you found the information provided on this webpage to be helpful, please click my Plus+1 button so that others may also find it.

___________________________
H. Michael Steinberg Esq.
Attorney and Counselor at Law
The Colorado Criminal Defense Law Firm of H. Michael Steinberg
A Denver, Colorado Lawyer Focused Exclusively On
Colorado Criminal Law For Over 30 Years.
DTC Quadrant Building
5445 DTC Parkway, Penthouse 4
Greenwood Village, Colorado, 80111
Primary Web Site:  http://www.HMichaelSteinberg.com
Colorado Criminal Law Blog:  www.Colorado-Criminal-Lawyer-Online.com
Main:  303.627.7777
Cell:  720.220.2277
24/7 Pager:  303.543.4433
FAX (Toll Free):  1.877.533.6276
Always investigate a lawyer's qualifications and experience before making a
decision to retain that lawyer or, for that matter, any professional ...in any field.