The juvenile justice process differs from the adult criminal process in a number of ways. While the adult criminal justice system is designed to be punitive, the juvenile process focuses on the best interest of the child.
When a case involves allegations of an extremely serious nature, and the juvenile is 14 years old or older, the District Attorney may consider directly filing charges against the juvenile as an adult into District Court. This means the juvenile could face adult penalties.
- ARREST: When a juvenile is arrested in Denver, the process begins at the Gilliam Youth Center at 28th and Downing.
- DETENTION HEARING: A detention hearing will be held in which the juvenile's parents or a Guardian Ad Litem represent the best interest of the juvenile.
- BOND: The juvenile Magistrate will make a decision about bond for the juvenile. There are some cases in which a juvenile is held at the center without bond, such as when there is reason to believe the juvenile may be a danger to themselves or others. In most cases, either a bond amount is set or the juvenile is granted a Pre-Trial Release (PTR).
- PRE-TRIAL RELEASE: If the juvenile is granted a Pre-Trial Release, he or she will wear an ankle monitor. (The juvenile's home must have a telephone to be eligible for this).
- CHARGE: The District Attorney's Office has 72 hours from the time of the detention hearing to file charges otherwise the charges are dismissed. (Charges may still be filed at a later date if new information or evidence is developed). If charges are filed, a copy of the charges is given to the juvenile and the juvenile is given a status hearing date or a preliminary hearing date.
- STATUS HEARING: The status hearing will be held in a Denver juvenile court room, located in Denver's City and County Building. The attorney for the juvenile and the District Attorney may discuss plea bargains at this hearing, or the case may be set for trial.
- PRELIMINARY HEARING: At a preliminary hearing, the District Attorney must provide a judge with enough evidence for the court to make a determination that there is probable cause to bind the case over as charged. These hearings are often waived, which keeps the plea negotiation process open.