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What are Colorado Juvenile Court Records?

The Colorado children code allows the judiciary to intervene when an adolescent commits a criminal offense, making special provisions for the prosecution of juvenile offenders separate from those applicable to adult offenders in Colorado. Of course, juveniles still incur criminal liabilities for the offense committed, but punishment is meted out to reform and prevent criminal tendencies in adulthood. The agencies involved in the investigation, arrest, indictment, and prosecution of juveniles are still the state’s law enforcement and court. However, these criminal justice agencies work with public and private institutions in their activities. Records created in the activities of these agencies and institutions, i.e., juvenile records, are subject to disclosure based on statutory provisions. 

What Information Is Contained In A Colorado Juvenile Record?

A juvenile record is a collection of documents that record the criminal or antisocial activities of a juvenile within the state. The contents of these records tend to vary, but one can expect to see the following:

  • The personal information of the offender, i.e., name, age & sex
  • Photograph
  • Residential address
  • Educational history
  • Names and addresses of attorneys
  • Case summaries
  • Notices & Summons
  • Warrants
  • Petitions
  • Orders
  • Motions
  • Court transcripts
  • Reports of medical examination (physical & psychological)
  • Audio recordings
  • Video recordings
  • Dispositional orders
  • Reports from supervision programs
  • Records and materials submitted during discovery

What Cases Are Heard By Colorado Juvenile Courts?

The jurisdiction of juvenile courts in Colorado applies to status offenses and delinquent offenses committed by individuals who are ten (10) years or older (Colo. Rev. Stat. 19–2–104).. Although juvenile courts must waive jurisdiction in certain cases, these courts typically hear the following cases:

  • Theft
  • Underage alcohol possession/use
  • Underage marijuana possession/use
  • Habitual truancy
  • Violation of municipal ordinances, except traffic violations
  • Possession/use of gun or firearm
  • Sexual assault
  • Assault
  • Robbery

The list above is not exhaustive and includes the trial of state and federal crimes, except otherwise stated by statute. Also, it is important to know that Colorado laws transfer jurisdiction to district courts for the trial of a juvenile as an adult if he/she faces charges involving a Class 4 felony or higher. In deciding a transfer, the court considers the age of the juvenile—at least twelve (12) years old—and prior records of violent crimes, such as robbery or aggravated assault. Likewise, the age bracket for the transfer includes juveniles who are at least 16 years old and face charges of Class 1 or Class 2 felony, certain violent felonies, or felony weapon charges.

Who is Eligible to View Juvenile Records in Colorado?

Colorado laws declare juvenile records as public information under the Colorado Open Records Act. However, the law cautions record custodians against disclosing juvenile records that contain sensitive information, information that infringes on privacy, or information that could stigmatize the juvenile (Colo. Rev. Stat. § 19–1–302).. Thus, only the following entities are statutorily eligible to view juvenile records in Colorado:

  • Juvenile court judge and staff
  • The juvenile and legal guardian
  • Law enforcement agencies
  • Prosecuting attorney and staff
  • Other criminal justice agencies
  • Children assessment centers
  • The department of human services
  • The department of corrections
  • Authorized school districts and school officials
  • Command authority of military installations

Apart from the above entities, interested members of the public must submit a petition showing good cause and receive a court order granting access to the specific records sought.

How to Find Juvenile Records in Colorado

The Colorado Supreme Court published a guide to accessing court records—including juvenile records that are public—in Colorado. This guide is detailed and contains useful information. Suffice to say that a requester must contact the court where the case was filed to obtain juvenile court records. Generally, it is advisable to visit the office of the clerk of court during business hours—unless the court allows mail-in requests. Often time, the court’s official website will outline the court’s record request policy, protocol, and necessary forms. Where there are no forms, a simple written request will suffice. Bear in mind that a request is incomplete without sufficient details to facilitate the search, as well as payment for costs incurred in searching and reproducing the record.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that the person resides in or was accused in. 

Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

Can You Look up Colorado Juvenile Records Online?

No. As of November 2020, Colorado courts do not provide direct remote access to case information and documents. However, certain third-party service providers collect aggregate data from the judiciary and allow interested persons to access publicly available juvenile records online.

Do Colorado Juvenile Records Show Up on Background Checks?

Yes, in cases where the district court tried the juvenile as an adult, the record will be available in the public domain and subject to disclosure in background checks unless sealed or expunged by court order (Colo. Rev. Stat. § 19–1–306).. Colorado allows the sealing or expungement of a juvenile record if the offender is older than twenty-one, has no pending criminal charges, and has satisfied the adjudication orders. There may be additional requirements for expungement, so a person must make inquiries at the office of the clerk of courts.

How Long are Juvenile Records Kept in Colorado?

Colorado is not an automatic expungement state. Thus, juvenile records remain in the public domain for life unless the juvenile or his/her legal representative submits a request for expungement.

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