Most Colorado residents would likely agree that the well-being of our state’s children should be a top priority. Some children, however, grow up in homes without good role models. Oftentimes, these children are forced to learn survival skills at a very young age which lead them to make poor decisions. In some cases, otherwise "good" kids make mistakes and are then bound to suffer the sometimes harsh consequences.

Common
juvenile crimes in Colorado encompass everything from drug possession and minor consumption to property theft and assault. Juveniles facing criminal charges have a lot at stake as certain criminal charges may become part of a permanent criminal record that can lead to time behind bars and fines all which invariably negatively impact a juvenile’s life.

A recent study conducted by the national coalition of attorneys examined the state of Colorado’s juvenile court system. The coalition’s findings were significant in proving that the state’s juvenile court system is wrought with high turnover rates, overwhelming caseloads and general confusion and chaos. Many of the court system’s practices adversely impact juveniles and effectively prevent them from receiving fair and just treatment.

For example, many juveniles facing criminal charges are encouraged to accept plea bargains prior to even speaking with a defense attorney. Commonly referred to as "stip and ship", a juvenile stipulates to the criminal charges and is then sent to a court-approved detention facility to serve out the terms of the deal.

While public defenders are appointed to juveniles who do not retain their own counsel, often these defenders do not even meet with the juvenile until several days after charges have been filed. Additionally, there are widespread problems with public defenders having "meaningful contact" with juvenile offenders as their caseloads are often prohibitive.

A criminal record can interfere with a juvenile’s ability to apply for scholarships, get into college and obtain employment. Parents of juveniles who are facing criminal charges would be wise, therefore, to retain private defense counsel to ensure for the best possible outcome in their child’s case.

Source: Westword, ”
Colorado’s juvenile courts suffer from ‘benign neglect,’ new study claims,” Alan Prendergast, Jan. 24, 2013