Dan Murphy
By: Dan Murphy


Under Colorado law, young people who are at least ten years old but under the age of eighteen are considered juveniles. If your child is charged with a crime in or near the Denver area, you will need to contact – immediately – the law offices of a Denver juvenile defense attorney

When a child under ten years of age commits a criminal offense, that child may be referred to Denver Human Services, but when a juvenile is charged with a crime in the Denver area, that young person must appear in Juvenile Court, a division of the Denver District Court.


The justice system for juveniles in the State of Colorado differs from the adult system in several important ways. While the justice system for adults is focused on penalizing convicted criminals, the justice system for juveniles in Colorado is more focused on the best interests of the child.

Colorado’s juvenile courts provide rehabilitation to youthful offenders who have committed crimes in our state and who have genuine rehabilitation needs. Many juvenile defendants can avoid a criminal conviction entirely by taking part in a court-ordered rehabilitation program.


Protecting this state’s young people and getting them “back on track” is the paramount goal of Colorado’s juvenile courts and juvenile justice system, so whenever someone under the age of eighteen is arrested in Colorado, a parent or guardian is immediately contacted and involved.

If a juvenile is accused of a minor offense, the child is typically released to a guardian or parent if the guardian or parent promises the child will appear in court. If the charge involves violence or weapons, the youth may be held in custody while investigators determine what happened.

If the young person remains in custody, the juvenile court will schedule a detention hearing. At that hearing, a judge will inform the youth about his or her rights. A Denver juvenile defense lawyer should accompany your youngster to that detention hearing.

(In some cases, juveniles are mailed a summons rather than arrested. The juvenile should appear in court at a “first appearance” or “advisement hearing” on the date listed on the summons, and the juvenile should be accompanied in court by his or her Denver juvenile defense attorney.)


At the detention or advisement hearing, the judge may order the minor’s detention (or continued detention) or may release the minor on bail or personal recognizance. Even if the minor is detained, your defense attorney can ask the judge at a later time to reconsider the youth’s release.

The judge may order a supervised pretrial release which requires random drug testing, GPS monitoring, and home visits by court officers. A judge is more likely to grant a juvenile’s release if:

  1. The juvenile’s home is safe and stable.
  2. The alleged crimes are not serious enough to warrant detention (or continued detention).
  3. The juvenile has no prior criminal offenses and is likely to return for future court dates.


At a young person’s next court hearing – the “return filing” hearing – the prosecutor will tell the judge that the state has made one of these three choices:

  1. The charge is being dropped, which concludes the case.
  2. The juvenile will be referred for diversion or informal adjustment for rehabilitation.
  3. The juvenile will be prosecuted for the crime he or she was originally charged with.

If the youth is prosecuted, your Denver juvenile defense lawyer may negotiate a plea deal, but if no agreement can be reached, the court will set a trial date. If a guilty plea is entered or if the child is found guilty of juvenile delinquency, the judge will schedule a sentencing hearing.

If your child is charged with a crime and did not in fact commit that crime, your defense attorney will work to uncover the truth, explain to the court exactly what happened, and ask the court for a full acquittal.


It’s important for parents to know that Colorado’s juvenile justice system is focused on rehabilitating young people rather than punishing them. For example, at a sentencing hearing for a youth who has been found guilty of juvenile delinquency, a judge may order:

  1. community service and/or probation
  2. fines and the payment of restitution
  3. therapy and/or anger management
  4. victim empathy counseling
  5. a supervised work program

However, those juveniles who qualify will be allowed to avoid a delinquency conviction by participating in a juvenile diversion program.


A juvenile diversion program may be offered after charges are filed as an alternative to normal court procedures and the possibility of a juvenile delinquency conviction. Entry into a diversion program requires a minor to plead guilty and take full responsibility for his or her behavior.

The juvenile and his or her guardian(s) or parent(s) must sign an agreement to adhere to the rules and conditions of the diversion program. The goal of juvenile diversion is rehabilitation by providing a number of important services to meet community, family, and individual needs.

Entry also requires that the youngster has not participated previously in a juvenile diversion program and that no other charges or judgments are pending against the youth. Juveniles who’ve been charged with serious or violent crimes usually are not accepted into diversion programs.

Diversion program participants, who are called clients, are assigned to programs based on their rehabilitation needs. The length of a diversion program depends on the needs of the client, but a juvenile must perform thirty or more hours of community service and pay restitution to victims.


Nothing is more important than the fate of your child. If your child is charged with a crime in or near the Denver area, currently or in the future, your family should be advised – and your youngster should be defended – by Denver criminal defense attorney Daniel M. Murphy.

Do not trust your child’s future to an untested attorney. With more than twenty-five years of criminal defense experience in the Denver area, award-winning defense lawyer Daniel M. Murphy has established a reputation for legal excellence and outstanding client service.

Daniel M. Murphy will protect your child’s future and best interests, and he will bring the case involving your child to its best possible outcome. If anyone in your family needs the services of a criminal defense lawyer, contact the offices of Daniel M. Murphy promptly at 303-996-8998.

Dan Murphy
By: Dan Murphy

Denver criminal defense lawyer Daniel M. Murphy provides clients in the Denver area with aggressive and sympathetic legal representation. He graduated from the University of Denver Law School in 1994 and worked as a public defender before starting his own practice in 1996. He has defended clients accused of the most difficult criminal and alcohol-related charges. He also serves as a Moot Court Judge for Denver-area law students who rely on his mentorship.