Youthful Offenders System (YOS) in Colorado
CRS 18-1.3-407

In Colorado, young offenders, generally between the ages of 14 to 19 years old, who are sentenced as adults may participate in the youthful offender's program. The youthful offender's program is an alternative to regular incarceration, with a focus on education and training young people for a transition back into the community. In this article, our Colorado criminal defense lawyers will address:

In Colorado, young offenders, generally between the ages of 14 to 19 years old, who are sentenced as adults may participate in the youthful offenders program.

1. How are young people sentenced in Colorado?

Young adults and youthful offenders may be sent through the youthful offender system after criminal sentencing in Colorado. The youthful offender system keeps young offenders separate from adult prisoners with a focus on the following principles:

  • Teaching self-discipline by providing clear consequences for inappropriate behavior;
  • Includes a daily regimen involving physical training, self-discipline exercises, educational and work programs; and meaningful interaction;
  • Use of staff models and mentors to promote socially accepted attitudes and behaviors;
  • Provide instruction on problem-solving skills;
  • Promote and develop new group cultures which result in a transition to prosocial behavior; and
  • Provide offenders with the opportunity to gradually re-enter the community.1

2. What is the youthful offender system?

The youthful offender system in Colorado was established to provide young offenders an alternative option to the department of corrections prison system. The youthful offender system is supposed to provide a controlled and regimented environment separate from the adult prison population. According to Colorado statutes, the youthful offender system “affirms dignity of self and others, promotes the value of work and self-discipline, and develops useful skills and abilities through enriched programming.2

2.1. How old are young offenders?

Young offenders may include a wide range of ages but are generally limited to those under the age of 21. Youthful offenders include both juvenile and young adult offenders who have been sentenced to the youthful offender system and are eligible for sentencing to the youthful offender system.3

For the purposes of sentencing youthful offenders, a “young adult offender” means a person who is at least 18 years of age but under 21 years of age when the crime is committed and under 21 years of age at the time of sentencing. A “juvenile” means a person who is under 18 at the time the crime is committed and under 21 at the time of sentencing. 4

However, “for the purposes of public safety, academic achievement, rehabilitation, the development of pro-social behavior, or reentry planning for youthful offenders,” and offender age 24 years or younger who is sentenced to the department of corrections may be transferred into or out of the youthful offender system at the director's discretion.5

2.2. Male and Female Offenders

Male and female individuals can be sentenced under the youthful offender system. The department of corrections is to establish separate housing for female and male offenders who are sentenced to the youthful offender system. However, male and female young offenders are to receive equitable treatment in sentencing. 6

2.3. Are young offenders separated from adult offenders?

Young offenders may be sentenced like adult offenders. However, under the youthful offender system, young offenders are to be housed and serve their sentences in a facility specifically designed and programmed for the youthful offender system. Young offenders are to be housed separate from and not brought into daily physical contact with inmates who have not been sentenced to the youthful offender system who are older than 24-years-old.7

3. Sentencing Young Offenders

Although young offenders are treated differently than adult offenders, offenders sentenced to the youthful offender system may be sentenced as adults and subject to all laws and the department of corrections pertaining to adults. 8

In order to sentence a juvenile offender or young adult offender to the youthful offender system, the court shall first impose upon such person a sentence to the department of corrections. After the youthful offender completes the sentence under the youthful offender system, including a period of community supervision, the court shall suspend the department of corrections sentence.9

4. Young Sex Offenders

Young people can be charged with sex offenses and categorized as sex offenders. An offender who is sentenced to the youthful offender system with a history of committing a sex offense shall be provided sex offender treatment services under the standards adopted by the sex offender management board.10

5. Related Topics

5.1. Permitting Unauthorized Minor to Drive C.R.S. 42–2–139

In Colorado, parents who allow an unauthorized minor to drive a vehicle to commit a class B traffic infraction under CRS 42-2-139. Permitting an unauthorized minor to get behind the wheel can result in a fine of up to $100.

5.2. Underage DUI C.R.S. 42-4-1301(2)(d)

Drivers under the age of 21 are subject to Colorado DUI and DWAI laws. It is also illegal for anyone under 21 to drive with a BAC of .02% or higher. This is known as Colorado's UDD or “zero tolerance” law. A first UDD is a traffic infraction and can be punished by a fine, useful public service and completion of an alcohol education program.

5.3. Minor in Possession C.R.S. 18-13-122

In Colorado, it is a petty offense for anyone under the age of 21 to possess or consume, alcohol, marijuana, or marijuana paraphernalia. The penalties for a first offense as a minor in possession of alcohol or marijuana include a fine and a substance abuse education program.

5.4. Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor C.R.S. 18-6-701

Behavior that induces a person under the age of 18 to violate a law, ordinance or court order is considered contributing to the delinquency of a minor under Colorado law. Contributing to the delinquency of a minor is a Class 4 felony in Colorado that carries penalties of 2 to 6 years in prison and fines up to $500,000.

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If your child has been charged with a criminal offense, contact us at Colorado Legal Defense Group. Our caring Colorado defense attorneys have many years of experience representing young clients and their families facing criminal charges. We are among the best Colorado criminal defense attorneys to call. Contact us today for a free consultation by phone or in-person or in our Denver law office.

Legal References

  1. C.R.S. 18-1.3-407(3)
  2. C.R.S. 18-1.3-407(1)(a)
  3. C.R.S. 18-1.3-407(2)(a)(III)(C)
  4. C.R.S. 18-1.3-407(2)(a)(III)(A)-(B)
  5. C.R.S. 18-1.3-407(1)(c)(II)
  6. C.R.S. 18-1.3-407(1)(b)
  7. C.R.S. 18-1.3-407(1)(c)(I)
  8. C.R.S. 18-1.3-407(1)(d)
  9. C.R.S. 18-1.3-407(2)(a)(I)
  10. C.R.S. 18-1.3-407(4.3)

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