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Juvenile Rights

Juvenile Rights Prior to and After Being Charged in Denver or Elsewhere in Colorado in a Juvenile Delinquency Petition

Denver and Colorado Juvenile Delinquency attorneys understand that a juvenile who is alleged to have engaged in a crime, normally referred to as a delinquent act, within the city of Denver or in any other location within Colorado, has numerous  juvenile rights as an accused. Denver and Colorado juvenile delinquency attorneys further understand and advise that many of these juvenile rights accorded to someone alleged to have committed a delinquent act under Colorado law are, in many respects, similar to the rights to the rights afforded to adults accused of committing crimes in Denver or elsewhere within Colorado.

Formal juvenile delinquency proceedings are typically initiated by the District Attorney filing a juvenile delinquency petition naming the minor as a juvenile who is subject of the Petition in Delinquency and typically his parent or guardian as the Respondent in the juvenile delinquency petition.

At the first appearance before a court, subsequent to a juvenile being accused of committing a delinquent act in Colorado, the Colorado juvenile is typically provided an advisement their juvenile rights. At this first Hearing the Court is to make sure that the juvenile and the parent of guardian of the juvenile understand:

  1. The nature of the allegation contained in the juvenile delinquency petition;
  2. The juvenile’s right to counsel by a lawyer and if the juvenile, parent, guardian, or other legal custodian is indigent, that the juvenile may be assigned a Colorado attorney to act as legal counsel, as provided by law;
  3. The juvenile need not make any statement, and that any statement made may be used against the juvenile;
  4. The juvenile potentially has the right to a preliminary hearing as set forth in Colorado law;
  5. The juvenile’s potential right to a jury trial as set forth in Colorado law;
  6. That any plea of guilty by the juvenile must be voluntary and not the result of undue influence or coercion on the part of anyone;
  7. The sentencing alternatives available to the Court if the juvenile pleads guilty or is found guilty of committing a delinquent act;
  8. The juvenile’s right to bail, as limited by law, and the amount of bail, if any, that has been set by the court;
  9. Under certain circumstances that the juvenile may be subject to transfer to the criminal division of the district court to be tried as an adult, as provided by Colorado law.

If the juvenile decides to plead guilty to the allegations in the delinquency petition the court is not permitted to accept the plea until all the above advisements have been given plus the Court must provide the juvenile further advisements as enumerated under Colorado law.

However, perhaps a more critical question as to juvenile rights, who may be subsequently charged in a Colorado juvenile delinquency petition, is raised when police officials seek to initially interrogate the juvenile in a custodial setting. Here again, any juvenile who may be charged in Denver or elsewhere in Colorado as an alleged Colorado juvenile delinquent has many of the rights of an adult, including the right to remain silent.

There are some additional juvenile rights afforded to juveniles prior to police attempting to interrogate the juvenile in a custodial setting. Some of these rights applicable to juveniles are not applicable to adults. For instance, except under certain specific circumstances, no statements or admissions of a juvenile made as a result of a custodial interrogation of a juvenile by a law enforcement officer, concerning delinquent acts alleged to be committed by the juvenile, can be admissible in evidence against the juvenile unless a parent, guardian or legal or physical custodian of the juvenile was present at such interrogation. Further, both the juvenile and the juvenile’s parent, guardian, legal or physical custodian must be advised of the rights of the juvenile including, among others, the right to remain silent and the right to have an attorney prior to questioning.

There are several exceptions in Colorado juvenile law to these above rights afforded juveniles who are being subject to custodial interrogation and may be charged as a juvenile delinquent. These include:

  1. If an attorney or public defender is present at the custodial interrogation the statements made by the juvenile may be admissible in a Colorado Court even if the parent, guardian, or legal or physical custodian was not present;
  2. Under certain circumstance whereupon the individual who may be accused of committing a delinquent act, as a juvenile, is eighteen years of age or older, or misrepresents his or her age as being eighteen years of age or older, and the law enforcement officer relies on such misrepresentation in conducting the custodial interrogation;
  3. The juvenile and his or her parent may expressly waive the requirement that the parent, guardian, or legal or physical custodian be present during interrogation of the juvenile. The waiver must be express and must be in writing to be effective.
  4. Statements may be admissible if the juvenile, without the presence of a parent, guardian, or legal or physical custodian, makes any deliberate misrepresentation affecting the applicability or requirements of his or her rights, and the law enforcement officer, acting in good faith and in reasonable reliance on such deliberate misrepresentation, conducts a custodial interrogation of the juvenile that does not otherwise comply with the pertinent parts of Colorado law.

There is an inherent difficulty that arises when a parent attempts to initially advise a juvenile as to whether their child should speak to the police about potential delinquent conduct. In part the difficulty exists because often the parent is caught completely by surprise and is informed by a police official that the juvenile is already in custody and that the parent should appear immediately. Further, some parents have previously advised their child that the best course of conduct is to tell the truth to authority figures and the parent, without knowing the specific details beforehand or even the details of the accusation, makes their judgment based in part on that past advised practice.

Colorado juvenile lawyers understand the sometimes substantial repercussions that may arise when a juvenile makes statements to the police with the permission of their parent or guardian. Prior to waiving any rights of an accused juvenile, who may be charged as a juvenile delinquent in Colorado, parents should consult a qualified Colorado juvenile lawyer for advice. In many instances the Colorado juvenile attorney will advise that no waiver of  juvenile rights should be made and no statements should be given by the juvenile.

Legal Disclaimer – The information contained at this web site is not intended to be legal advice and all information regarding Colorado juvenile law is general content only and should not be relied upon for any specific situation. Information on this web site is not intended to cover all the issues, nuances or ramifications related to the topic discussed. This web site may not be updated routinely to reflect the most current state traffic law.

Juveniles and their parents should consult an experienced Denver or Colorado juvenile delinquency attorney for advice regarding an individual situation.