As a new law compelling the District Attorneys of Colorado to turn over to Colorado Judges the decision to file criminal cases against adults in adult or juvenile court – is winding it’s way to the Colorado Governor’s desk.
This bill deserves our support.
At present The decision to try a 14, 15, 16 or 17-year-old as an adult in each case is made by one person — a District Attorney. District Attorneys are not required to follow any guidelines and do not have to document how they made their decision. There are no checks and balances and no hearing before a judge. Prosecutors generally make decisions about whether to “direct file” children within 72 hours.
The new law – the Direct File bill, HB12-1271, sponsored by Rep. B.J. Nikkel (R-Loveland) and Rep. Beth McCann (D-Denver) passed through the House today on a vote of 45-20.
The bill strengthens due process for children who have been charged with crimes. This bill would let a judge decide whether a child of 14 or 15 years old should be prosecuted in adult court. For those 16 and 17-year olds, prosecutors would still be able to file to adult court, but the decision would be subject to judicial review. That bill will now move to the Senate. A big congratulations goes out to the Colorado Juvenile Defender Coalition for their leadership on this important piece of legislation
One never knows when our own children may be impacted by a young Colorado DA’s irresponsible decision. You should contact your Colorado State Legislator and get behind this excellent law