This week the Colorado legislature is moving forward on a bill to reduce prosecutors’ power in juvenile cases. Currently, in Colorado for many types of felonies, a prosecutor can try a juvenile in adult court without any oversight from a judge. This has several implications; some prosecutors are accused of using adult court to gain plea bargains from juveniles. Additionally, this power can create permanent felony records for juvenile offenders who only have one offense.
Keeping a juvenile free of a criminal record is an important part juvenile criminal lawyer’s job. A permanent criminal record can harm future jobs, college choices, or graduate school choices. The new system would still allow for juveniles to be tried in adult court, however, a judge would have to agree with the prosecutor. After similar reforms were passed in 2010 for 14 and 15 year olds use of this power has been cut in half. This statistic seems to indicate that judges were much more strict in using this power and protecting juvenile offenders.
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