By H. Michael Steinberg Colorado Juvenile Crimes Criminal Defense Lawyer
Colorado Juvenile Court System – The Defense Of A Child Means Listening
After more than 30 years in the Criminal Courts of Colorado, I have learned a great deal about my youngest clients – juveniles charged with adult crimes.
Some Lessons about Colorado Juvenile Criminal Defense:
● Never label a kid – never rush to judgment about what type of person they are.
● As a criminal defense lawyer always take the time to sit down and talk with your child client without the parents or guardian present. Give you client a chance to “open up.”
● Do NOT treat your clients as if they are future felons. Treat them as they are – kids in trouble. Don’t let your client’s think ever think they will be failures as adults because of their case.
● Force the DA, the Judge, and the Court personnel to listen to you about your client.
● Don’t assume your young clients are lying. Don’t assume anything!
● Juveniles are not adults. Pre-judgment and stereotyping is common with kids in trouble with the law – labeling theory is a common theme in juvenile criminological research. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy – treating juveniles as failures actually exacerbates and sometimes accelerates their own personal alienation causing the effect you expected in the first instance.
● Force the courts to see your juvenile client as more than a piece of paper or a criminal charge. The stake holders in the juvenile justice system have their own agenda – which tends to minimize youths’ voices and is “rooted in a reality devoid of particular details that do not fit well with decision-makers’ own lives and experiences.”
● Children need to believe that you believe in them…. that somebody cares about them.
● Set a reasonable standard for your client. Be a role model – a positive influence. Show these children respect and give them hope.
● Look at the influences in their lives. Are they being forced by peer pressure or school bullying to act the way they have acted?
● Don’t be afraid to hug them .. I am over 6 foot 1″ and almost 285 pounds – believe me – they need a hug.
Good Luck. H. Michael Steinberg