Purpose clauses, 2016

  • No clause

  • Parens patriae

  • Due process era

  • Balanced and Restorative Justice (BARJ)

  • Developmental Approach

Colorado's purpose clause aligns with the BARJ model. It holds that public safety is paramount, and juvenile justice systems must take into consideration the best interests of the juvenile, the victim, and the community; and should seek to repair harm and hold juveniles accountable with opportunity for victim and community participation.

CO ST §19-2-102

Intake and diversion, 2016

Initial intake and court diversion decision is at the discretion of the prosecutor or the juvenile court intake officer, divided by offense.

In Colorado, law enforcement officers can issue ‘petty tickets’ for some violations, which require screening by a court-designated entity and may lead to a diversionary contract. When utilized in lieu of detention, the matter goes before a judge similar to a detention hearing, where the judge can set conditions of release.  The DA decides whether to file the petition within 72 hours and whether the juvenile can participate in a diversion program. Upon successful completion, the DA may not file the petition. If taken into custody, statutes permit the court to establish pre-adjudication service programs and local rules.  Typically the court works with the Department of Public Safety, Division of Criminal Justice to establish juvenile diversion programs by contract.

Otherwise, the DA may request that the court handle a matter as an informal adjustment at any point from referral to sentencing.  Juveniles are ineligible for informal adjustment when they have a delinquency adjudication in the past year, informal adjustment within the past year, or any prior deferred adjudications. Informal adjustment includes supervision by JPO or another agency. 

Once a petition is filed, deferred adjudication can occur when the juvenile agrees with the DA to enter a guilty plea and comply with terms of the agreement. Conditions can include supervision methods (JPO monitoring and treatment), electronic or global position monitoring, work release, day programs, and compliance with teen court program dispositions, etc. Once accepted by the court, the adjudication can be deferred for up to one year for most offenses, or up to 5 years for unlawful sexual behavior. Pursuant to the consent decree, the petition is dismissed upon successful completion.

Post-adjudication, for most offenses [except unlawful sexual behavior, domestic violence, stalking, etc.] the court can utilize an “alternative disposition” to divert youth from placement in correctional facilities, which can include probation supervision and other programs. A finding of guilt by the court can be withdrawn and the case dismissed with prejudice.

Statutory time limits for pre- & post-petition court diversions exist.

In Colorado, pre-petition court diversions can be set for up to 90 days and can be extended additional 30 days for 'good cause.' Adjudications can be deferred for up to one year for most offenses, or up to 5 years for unlawful sexual behavior.

Courtroom shackling, 2015

No statewide restriction

Competency, 2015

Colorado has a sub-part of the Children’s Code (of statutes) dedicated to juvenile competency procedures, which requires that parties actively safeguard an alleged juvenile offender’s right not to be tried or sentenced while incompetent to proceed. Court procedures and examination elements are detailed along with timelines for review and further actions when the juvenile cannot be restored to competency. The Children’s Code refers to definitions and procedures in (adult) criminal statutes, which align with the Dusky standard.

  • No juvenile standard

  • Juvenile standard is the adult standard

  • Juvenile justice standard exists

  • JJ standard includes developmental immaturity

Sex offender registration, 2015


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Juvenile Justice GPS (Geography, Policy, Practice, Statistics) is a project to develop a repository providing state policy makers and system stakeholders with a clear understanding of the juvenile justice landscape in the states.

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