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The Colorado Juvenile Criminal Sentencing Hearing – Part II of III

By H. Michael Steinberg Colorado Juvenile Criminal Defense Lawyer – Attorney

The Colorado Juvenile Criminal Sentencing Hearing

The Colorado Juvenile Criminal Sentencing Hearing

The Colorado Juvenile Criminal Sentencing Hearing – Part III – This part explores the nature of a lawyer’s representation of the juvenile charged in juvenile court. It can be a complex relationship – especially where the best interests of the juvenile in the eyes of the parent, the Guardian Ad Litem, and the DA all diverge. 

The Important History Of Juvenile Courts

Juvenile courts were originally created to serve as a rehabilitative – more benevolent alternatives to the punitive nature of the adult criminal courts. Today juvenile criminal sentences reflect a mixture of rehabilitative and punitive purposes.  The punitive side of juvenile sentencing has meant new laws imposing mandatory minimum sentences for juveniles for certain categories of offenses, the elimination of confidentiality provisions such as juvenile sex offender sentencing laws, and the expansion of collateral consequences for delinquency adjudications that extend into the juvenile’s now adult years.

On the other hand juvenile court sentences also reflect the discretion of judges who have the authority to impose open-ended sentences tailored to the individual juvenile’s needs.

While juvenile court is becoming more centered around punishment than forgiveness and seems at times to be more focused retribution than rehabilitation, the pendulum in my 30 year opinion is beginning to swing back from years of focusing on public safety, offender accountability, and punishment, to the original purposes of rehabilitation.

When A Charged Juvenile “Calls The Shots”

This always comes as a shock to the parents who are paying the lawyer’s fees for the representation of their children.  If there is a conflict between what the client – the juvenile – and what the parents wish to happen – the client – juvenile has the right to order the lawyer to take the juvenile’s position.

Only this  approach is consistent with Colorado law and ethical rules.

In practice – the juvenile’s wishes arise in the context of the expert legal advice he should be receiving from his lawyer. Before deciding what direction a case should go – the lawyer has the responsibility to explain the entire complex range of sentencing restrictions and programs that are possible in the case at hand.

Good and experienced lawyers must therefore know the services and programs available for  adjudicated delinquents in their jurisdictions to assist their clients and their families in arriving at the best possible sentencing plan.

An example us a juvenile in need of drug treatment. There are times when juveniles need extensive drug, alcohol or mental health treatment. It is during those times that parents may be convinced the treatment should be inpatient in a locked treatment facility. However, the rub is when the juvenile wants less restrictive probationary terms that – for example- reflect out patient unlocked treatment programs.

The Colorado Juvenile Criminal Sentencing Hearing – Knowing All Of The Options – And Giving Good Advice

The juvenile criminal defense lawyer must be thoroughly familiar with all possible forms of treatment and other conditions of probation before consulting – and obtaining the consent of their  client. This is the most important role of the lawyer – good lawyers must give their clients advice as regards the lawyer’s opinion of the juvenile’s likelihood of successfully completing various probationary programs in the context of the long-term interests of the juvenile.

Good lawyers should advocate and oppose – in open court – a DA seeking sentencing terms and conditions that are unnecessarily restrictive of the child’s liberty. Detention or other out-of-home placement is the kind of punitive sentences that can result in potentially harmful consequences well beyond the immediate impact of the sentence… the kinds of impacts from these kinds of sentences can include the disruption of family and community ties, a break in ongoing educational services, the exposure to negative peer influences in the juvenile jail (detention) and even, in some cases, the victimization of the juvenile to violence while in custody or in a restrictive placement.

Beware Of Incarceration For “Technical” Violation Of Probation

While detention can usually be avoided at the first detention hearing in favor of other least restrictive alternatives – beware of the juvenile criminal probation violation. Judges will issue orders – at the request of the probation officer – to detain, and commit to locked detention centers juveniles who have committed even the most insignificant criminal offenses. 

These arrest – most of the time “no bond” warrants on the basis of the most “technical” of violations – such as curfew, missing school, running away from home, or using the least onerous controlled substances such as marijuana.

The Danger Of The “Passive” Colorado Criminal Defense Lawyer

What often happens in juvenile court is the juvenile defense lawyer becomes a “group think” lawyer. These lawyers fail to object to restrictions that the juvenile – client does not want – failing  to object to restrictions requested by the DA and the Guardian Ad Litem because of what is often referred to as the “best-interest mindset.”

“Best-interest” lawyering happens often by “omission as well as commission.”  By not meaningfully contesting the DA – GAL’s sentencing recommendations and then failing to explain the complexity of juvenile sentencing to his juvenile client and their families – the Colorado criminal defense lawyer is simply not doing his or her job.  Many Colorado lawyers practice this way because it makes the fewest demands on their time. It is a go along to get along approach.

This may happen for many reasons – – high caseloads and minimal time to spend with each client – but whatever the reason – it works to the disadvantage of the juvenile client.

The Colorado Juvenile Criminal Sentencing Hearing

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: H. Michael Steinberg – Email The Author at: hmichaelsteinberg@colorado-juvenile-crimes-lawyer or call his office at 303-627-7777 during business hours – or call his cell if you cannot wait and need his immediate assistance – 720-227-7777.

If you are charged with A Colorado crime or you have questions about The Colorado Juvenile Criminal Sentencing Hearing, please call our office. The Law Offices of H. Michael Steinberg, in Denver, Colorado, provide criminal defense clients with effective, efficient, intelligent and strong legal advocacy. We can educate you and help you navigate the stressful and complex legal process related to your criminal defense issue.

H. Michael Steinberg, is a Denver, Colorado criminal defense lawyer with over 30 years of day to day courtroom experience –  specializing in Colorado Criminal Law along the Front Range.  He will provide you with a free initial case consultation to evaluate your legal issues and to answer your questions with an honest assessment of your options.  Remember, it costs NOTHING to discuss your case. Call now for an immediate free phone consultation.

Helping Clients To Make Informed Decisions In the Defense of Colorado Criminal Cases.

Contact A Lawyer with Three Decades of Experience as a Denver Criminal Attorney at The Steinberg Colorado Criminal Defense Law Firm Today.

Colorado Defense Lawyer H. Michael Steinberg provides solid criminal defense for clients throughout the Front Range of Colorado – including the City and County courts of Adams County, Arapahoe County, City and County of Boulder, City and County of Broomfield, City and County of Denver, Douglas County, El Paso County – Colorado Springs, Gilpin County, Jefferson County, Larimer County, and Weld County,…. and all the other cities and counties of Colorado along the I-25 Corridor… on cases involving …the Colorado Juvenile Criminal Sentencing Hearing.


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___________________________
H. Michael Steinberg Esq.
Attorney and Counselor at Law
The Colorado Criminal Defense Law Firm of H. Michael Steinberg
A Denver, Colorado Lawyer Focused Exclusively On
Colorado Criminal Law For Over 30 Years.
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5445 DTC Parkway, Penthouse 4
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