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Colorado Law Raises Minimum Age for Prosecuting Children as Juveniles

A newly enacted law raises from 10 to 13 the minimum age in Colorado for prosecution of children as juvenile offenders. The law, which took effect June 13, 2023, aims to reduce the number of children in Colorado’s criminal justice system and to give young teens the opportunity to benefit from behavioral counseling and other rehabilitative measures.

The Reduce Justice-Involvement for Young Children law, HB 23-1249, requires juvenile district courts to divert offenders of ages 10 through 12 — except those accused of homicide — into collaborative management programs. First established in 2004, these programs let courts coordinate with local agencies and organizations that provide services and support for children alleged to have committed crimes. Most jurisdictions already have collaborative management programs in place. The law provides additional funding for such programs and directs the Colorado Department of Human Services to provide technical assistance to the organizations involved.

Under the new law, children of ages 10 through 12 who are suspected of having committed crimes may be detained by law enforcement but only for their own safety. Otherwise, law enforcement will be instructed to refer the child to a local collaborative management team, which will then work with the child and their family to conduct an evaluation. The local team may determine that the child does not need support services, may refer the child to additional support services or may set up an individualized support team meeting and service plan. If a child has engaged in conduct that would constitute a crime of violence or a felony sex offense, then the collaborative management team is required to set up a support team meeting and service plan. Alleged victims have the right to be informed and to provide input to any plan. If you have a child under the age of 13 who is accused of having committed a crime, an experienced juvenile delinquency attorney can advise you about your potential options.

At the Law Office of Bonnie E. Saltzman, LLC in south Denver, Colorado, we frequently work with parents of children who face the possibility of prosecution as a juvenile. Please call 720-388-1565 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.