What if my child is involved in the Juvenile Justice system?

There are several steps involved with a child charged with a crime:

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The youth is taken into custody by law enforcement. Parent/guardian is notified. At this time the youth may be released to the parent/guardian (however this is not always the case).

Depending on the crime, the youth may be referred to the Assessment Team for screening. Two members of the Assessment Team work for the Mesa County Department of Human Services. The Assessment Team uses a federal "checklist" to decide where the youth will go. Options at this point include:

    • release to parent/guardian,

    • placement at the youth shelter,

    • release with services,

    • placement at a staff secure facility, placement in a temporary holding facility, or

    • placement in detention.

If the youth is not released with services or to a parent/guardian then a hearing must be held within 48 hours (excluding holidays and weekends). This hearing is called a Detention Hearing. The purpose of this hearing is to decide where the youth should be placed. Options include:

    • release to the parent,

    • release with services,

    • bond, or

    • to remain in detention, staff secure facility or shelter.

It is also an option that the youth is ordered into the custody of the Mesa County Department of Human Services (DHS). If the youth is placed in DHS custody you can expect to receive information from the DHS case manager regarding where your youth will be placed, and to help develop a treatment plan.

The District Attorneys office will review all information and decide whether or not to File a Petition against the youth. If the youth is in custody, the petition must be filed within 72 hours. Other options include:

    • informal adjustment of probation,

    • diversion, or

    • a direct filing in district court.

Several things occur during this phase of the case:

    • Advisement hearing - this hearing is the first court appearance after the petition is filed. The youth, parents/guardian or other legal custodian receives information regarding their rights. An attorney may be requested at this time. At this point the case can also be referred to district court.

    • Preliminary Hearing - Dispositional Hearing At this hearing information will be presented to enable the court to decide if there is probable cause to believe that the youth committed the crime. If not then the Petition will be dropped.

    • Entry of Plea - At this time the youth will state guilty or not guilty of committing the crime. If the youth pleads guilty options include deferred adjudication or adjudication. If the youth pleads not guilty then an adjudicatory trial is set.

    • Adjudicatory Trial - This trial must be held within 60 days. At this trial information including witness testimony and criminal history of the youth will be presented. The youth may also choose to testify. If it is decided either by the judge or jury that there is not enough evidence to prove that the youth committed the crime then the Petition will be dismissed. If the youth is found guilty (adjudicated) he/she must receive his/her sentence within 45 days.

Prior to the youth receiving their sentence the probation office will collect information regarding the youth to include in a report to the court. This is called a "Pre-sentence Investigation". At this time the information may be presented to the Community Evaluation Team (CET). CET is made up of members of various community agencies including:

    • DHS,

    • Colorado West Mental Health,

    • Probation,

    • the Western regional Alternative to Placement (WRAP), and other agencies.

After hearing all of the information on the youth, and talking with the parents/guardian if possible, CET will provide a recommendation to the court concerning where a child should be placed upon sentencing (for example, options may include home, DHS or the Division of Youth Corrections). This is only a recommendation, and the court is not obligated to follow CET's recommendations.

The court has several options when sentencing a youth. These include:

    • custody with DHS,

    • county jail,

    • detention, placed with a relative or suitable person,

    • probation,boot camp,placement in hospital,fines, and/or

    • restitution.

Other options exist if the youth is a special offender. Parents/guardians may be court ordered to do things as well.

If the youth is placed in DHS custody at anytime during this process, the parent/guardian can expect the case manager to work closely with the family, probation and the courts to determine what the issues are and how to address them so that the youth may return home as soon as is reasonably possible. This might include services to the family as well as the youth. The parent/guardian's participation in this process is critical.

Mesa County Child Protection Hotline
(970) 242-1211 

Department of Human Services
Main Line (970) 241-8480 
Colorado Child Protection Hotline
1 844-CO-4-KIDS

Parent Help Line
(800) 244-5373 

Welfare Fraud Hotline
(970) 256-2421 
Assistance Programs
(970) 248-2849 
Child Support
(970) 248-2780  
Western Colorado 211
2-1-1 or (970) 244-8400
Foster Parent Info Line
(970) 248-2794  
Workforce Center
(970) 248-0871