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What Is The Liability Of Parents For The Delinquent Acts Of Their Children In Colorado?

By H. Michael Steinberg Colorado Juvenile Crimes Criminal Defense LawyerEmail The Author at hmsteinberg@hotmail.com

What Is The Liability Of Parents For The Delinquent Acts Of Their Children In Colorado?What Is The Liability Of Parents For The Delinquent Acts Of Their Children In Colorado? – This question is almost always asked when parents are faced with defending their children against allegations of serious criminal acts committed by their biological or step children.

The answer to this question can be broken down into two categories. First, the financial liability of parents for restitution owed to the victims of their child’s crime – (for this topic please FOLLOW THIS LINK to locate my article on parental responsibility for restitution). 

Second, the remaining kinds of possible financial and non-financial accountability for the parents for the acts of their children in Colorado Juvenile Court under Colorado Juvenile Law.

In a nutshell – here is the law as regards Colorado Parental Responsibility for their Child’s Restitution Obligations:

A parent who is a party to the delinquency proceeding may be ordered to pay restitution imposed on their child. However, the restitution may not exceed $25,000 for any one delinquent act.

This is true only IF the court finds that the parent has failed to make diligent, good faith efforts to prevent or discourage the juvenile from engaging in delinquent activity. The parent has the right to a hearing prior to the court entering an order for that parent to pay restitution.

To get the big picture of the FLOW of the Colorado Juvenile Justice System  – here are TWO LINKS TO FLOW CHARTS that delineate your child’s path through the system:

How Responsible Are You As A Parent For The Delinquent Acts Of Your Children?

Sometimes the very real lack of control a parent has over their child or their children in today’s world can be a very frightening aspect of being a parent. But when your child actually commits one or more very serious criminal acts – you need to know how far the courts can go to reach your assets and your basic freedom to compel your child and YOU to answer for those very same acts.

Colorado law makes clear that the protection and rehabilitation of juveniles for their delinquent acts falls squarely on the shoulders of the child him or herself and the child’s parents. Between the ages of 10 and 17 – parents can be called into court to provide emotional, physical and, yes financial support for the Court’s “plan” to provide for their child’s rehabilitation. 

At the other extreme ends of the system – children who are under the age of 10 are typically assigned to the child welfare system and when a child turns 18, they fall under the jurisdiction of the adult criminal court system.

Under The Colorado Juvenile Code – Parents Can Be Held Accountable for the Delinquent Acts Committed by Their Children By Means Of Various Colorado Laws

Under Colorado law parents can be forced to pay the costs of incarceration of the juvenile as well as the restitution and fines, and even the cost of jail sentences. Parents are required to attend all court proceedings.

But how far does parental responsibility extend in Colorado juvenile delinquency cases?

As noted – parents are not only expected to participate in the adjudication and rehabilitation of their delinquent child, they can be forced to do so over their objections. Parents are actually named in the criminal complaints (called Petitions) filed against their children as “RESPONDENTS.” They are actually “summonsed” to court along with their children- or – if the child is arrested – they are named in the case as a party subject to the jurisdiction of the Court based on their legal relationship to the child.

They are expected – (at least one parent – if there is more than one) – to attend every hearing. In order to participate in the rehabilitation of their child, parents can be ordered to assist in the following ways:

1) complete community service with their child.
2) attend parental responsibility programs.
3) perform services to the victim of the child designed to rehabilitate him or her.

But while there is law in Colorado that holds parents financially liable for restitution and other costs in a juvenile case the court does not have authority to sentence a parent to jail for the delinquent acts of the juvenile.

A Parent Can Be Forced To Attend Juvenile Court Proceedings

A parent, a guardian, or a legal custodian of any juvenile involved in the Colorado juvenile justice system MUST ATTEND ALL proceedings their child is required to attend in juvenile court BUT

A judge also has the discretion to:

specify the exact expectations for the juvenile’s parent in the individual case,

or,

exempt the parent from participation in the juvenile’s treatment.

In the individual case  then – a juvenile court judge can tailor the parent’s participation requirements to the needs of the juvenile and the needs of the case.

Contempt Power Of The Court For The Refusal Or Failure To Attend Or To Participate In Their Child’s Juvenile Criminal Court Proceedings

If a parent, guardian, or legal custodian fails to attend a proceeding or to participate in the proceeding as ordered without good cause or fails to abide by court-ordered participation in a juvenile delinquent’s rehabilitation, the parent or parents may be subject to the Court’s contempt power to punish those parents.

Contempt of court punishment includes JAIL TIME for parents who fail to abide by court orders to assist their child in the child’s court ordered rehabilitation.

Sentencing Of Juveniles And Parental Accountability

When a juvenile is sentence for his or her crimes – the child’s  parent or parents may be subject to orders imposed by the court as conditions of that sentence. Those orders can include assisting their child with their probation for an adjudication, for a deferred adjudication and even for informal adjustment. The only exception is jail.

ANY sentence imposed on a juvenile in a delinquency case “may include the juvenile’s parent or guardian.” (Juvenile Code § 19-1-115(4)).

Other examples include ordering the parent or parents into anger management classes, treatment programs, parental responsibility training program; and individual family therapy, community service, work programs, and even work done directly for the victim or victims  of the juvenile’s delinquent act (with the victim’s cooperation and permission).

Among The Possible Financial Responsibilities of A Parent In A Juvenile Criminal Proceeding

1. The costs of foster care or residential facility placement.
2. The costs of a guardian ad litem.
3. The costs of the residential care of the child as a result of a sentence of placement out of the home or a grant of probation.
4. The costs of a child’s placement by a public agency.
5. The coats a child committed to the Department of Human Services (DHS).

ALL of the above are based on the parent’s ability to pay.

In setting the amount that is required to be paid under the law (19-2-114), the list of factors the court must consider in setting the amount of payment include:

1) The amount of criminal restitution;
2) Any maintenance and support of the juvenile’s spouse or dependents, or others having rights out of the estate of the juvenile;
3) Any persons having legal right to support and maintenance from the parent; and
4) The financial needs of the juvenile for the six-month period following the juvenile’s release, for the purpose of assisting the juvenile in seeking employment.

What If The Parent Is A Victim Of Their Child’s Crime? – Parents as Victims

Whether it makes sense ot not – when the parents are also the victims of the juvenile’s delinquent acts – the court may still impose a mandatory financial obligation on the parent for the cost of care in a residential facility or foster care.

Other sources of victim’s compensation to the victims of a juvenile’s crimes (including the child’s parents) such as the Colorado Crime Victims Compensation Act or the Colorado Children’s Code do not excuse a parents’ duty to provide reasonable support for their children.

On the other hand – parents under these same Acts may be entitled to compensation from these funds for losses due to injury or property damage.

Who Pays For The Child’s Attorney Fees For Court Appointed Delinquency Defense?

Either parent may privately retain a lawyer to represent their child in a delinquency action.

Like all other cases in the criminal justice system – if the parents cannot afford a lawyer, the Court may appoint counsel. Here’s the rub – while the state pays for the lawyer – attorney’s fees can be charged back to the child and the parents as part of the costs of the case. Should the court appoint counsel for a juvenile because of the parents’ refusal to hire counsel where the Court believes a lawyer is necessary or the child has requested a lawyer and the Court appoints one, “the parents shall be ordered to reimburse the court for the cost of counsel unless the court finds that there was good cause for such refusal.” (See Colorado Juvenile Code CRS § 19-2-706(2)(b))

What Is The Liability Of Parents For The Delinquent Acts Of Their Children In Colorado?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: H. Michael Steinberg – Email The AuthorA Denver Colorado Juvenile Crimes Criminal Defense 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 – 720-220-2277.

If you are charged with A Colorado crime or you have questions about What Is The Liability Of Parents For The Delinquent Acts Of Their Children In Colorado?, 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.

Colorado Juvenile Criminal Defense LawyerH. 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 …What Is The Liability Of Parents For The Delinquent Acts Of Their Children In Colorado?


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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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