|Age of Majority
Colorado law (2-4-401(6)) defines a minor as a person who has not attained the age of 21, except as otherwise provided in the express language of another statute. The age of majority is the age when young people are considered adults for most matters. Colorado, as many other states, has determined the age of majority to be 18 years of age or older. Individuals are treated as adults at the age of 18, with some exceptions, such as drinking alcoholic beverages (12-47-901), renting cars, and purchasing a hotel room. When an individual reaches the age of majority his or her parents are no longer liable for their child's actions. Some acts young people who have reached the age of majority may be involved in are:
back to top
Alcohol and Youth
According to our state law, as well as that of every other state, persons consuming or in possession of alcohol must be of at least 21 years of age (12-47-901). In Colorado it is illegal to enter into a liquor store if under 21 years of age (12-47-901(b)). It is also a criminal act for adults to sell or give alcohol to any person under 21 years of age (12-47-901(1a)). The majority of tickets given to underage drinkers are for the possession and consumption of "ethyl alcohol." Ethyl alcohol is the definition for beer and liquor, and these tickets constitute more than half of underage tickets given (18-13-122). Although Colorado law is extremely specific on the law regarding underage drinking, people still attempt to purchase alcohol. Some youth make fake ID's by altering, defacing, or constructing illegal identification. This is a serious crime and punishable by fines, felony, and misdemeanor charges (12-47-901(IIA, IIB)). Even though drinking is illegal, there are some exceptions to the rule. An underage person may consume alcohol if they obtain permission from their guardians and drink on their private property.
back to top
Bikes, Skateboards, and Skates
Colorado is a very recreational state. Many outdoor enthusiasts use bikes, skateboards, and skates for recreation. Although these recreational instruments may appear to be harmless, many accidents occur every year due to neglect and carelessness. Many laws have been passes to protect both the recreationalist and the non-recreationalist. All applicable laws that pertain to motor vehicles apply to bicycles, skates, and skateboards(42-4-221). Some local ordinances have been established to protect citizens from accidents (42-4-111).
Bicycles must abide by rules such as:
back to top
Cars, Youth, and Traffic Laws
One of the biggest concerns for young people are issues regarding traffic laws. When kids reach the age of 15 1/2, they may take a test to obtain an instructional permit (42-4-107). Following section (42-2-106), instructional permits and temporary licenses allow kids to drive when accompanied by a licensed driver 21 years or older. This licensed driver must occupy seat next to the permit driver.
Until the age of 18, drivers are considered minors. At age 16 kids can apply for a minor's driver license (42-2-108), allowing them, with a signed affidavit of liability and passing score in a driving examination, to drive without a guardian. Many rules and regulations are imposed upon all drivers, and especially young drivers, to ensure safety on the road. Below are some common issues that young people deal with in court.
It is illegal to drink and drive (42-4-1301(1a)). Any young person caught drinking and driving automatically surrenders his or her license (42-2-129), and faces fines and possible jail time.
It is illegal to take part in speeding contests. This is also punishable by the revocation of one's license (42-4-1105(1-3)). Reckless driving entails the blatant disregard for other's safety, and is illegal (42-4-1401(1-2)).
Throwing any object on a highway is prohibited and usually involves a large fine and possible jail time, or both (42-4-1406(1-5)).
Hit and Run
In Colorado, whenever any damage is done to a person or property, drivers are required by law to stop and contact authorities (42-4-1603(1-2)).
It is illegal for individuals to use another person's license (42-2-136), to alter a license (42-4-136(1)), or to reproduce a license (42-4-136(6a-b)).
These are just a few of the more often seen cases in court. A quick easy reference to traffic laws can be obtained at your local department of motor vehicles.
back to top
Curfews are established to help deter crime and keep youth from getting into unnecessary trouble. Although there are no specific state statutes, many local governments have established curfews. These laws pertains to minors under 18 years of age who are in a public place past a certain time. Exceptions to this law are instances where minors are returning home from employment (they need to obtain a note from their employer), and youth returning home from an event such as a concert, organized meeting, or any other appropriate activity that has continued past the curfew. To see if there is a curfew set in your area, contact your local sheriff's office.
back to top
Disturbing the Peace
Many times youth receive tickets for disturbing the peace. Disturbing the peace means that a person knowingly commits disorderly conduct in a public place (18-9-106). Disorderly conduct involves things such as:
back to top
Drugs and Youth
Every year in Colorado many tickets are given to youth for drug related crimes. Three offenses that are often seen in Colorado courts are possession of marijuana (18-18-406), sale of controlled substances (18-18-405), and paraphernalia tickets (18-18-426).
Possession of marijuana is illegal in Colorado. Anyone who is caught using marijuana faces a $100-500 fine and/or 15 days in county jail (18-18-406(3)). If a young person is in possession of no more than 1 ounce, the penalty is a class 2 petty offense with a fine of no more than $100 (18-18-406(1)). If a young person is in possession of more than 1 ounce, but less than 8 ounces, the penalty is a class 1 misdemeanor and class 5 felony (18-18-406(4aI,II)).
Sale and Distribution
Manufacturing or selling controlled substances is prohibited in Colorado. Penalties range from misdemeanors to felonies, and are punishable by fines and jail time (18-18-405).
Paraphernalia tickets are often given to minors who are in possession of things such as:
The penalty for being in possession of drug paraphernalia is a class 2 petty offense and punishable of a fine of not more than $100 (18-18-428).
Information regarding eligibility for in-state tuition for emancipated students is available:
Emancipation for purposes of child custody obligations, specifically the termination of child support, is available on this site.
Second degree forgery is committed when the offender falsely makes, completes, alters or utters a written instrument not described by first degree forgery. This is a class 1 misdemeanor (18-5-104).
back to top
Gangs and gang related crimes are no longer only found in big cities, but all throughout the state of Colorado. Because gangs not only bring violence but also drugs and drug trafficking with them, current Colorado law has strengthened the abilities of police officers and others to deal with these problems. One way this is done is through the establishment of a computerized data-base which works to track known gang members and to assist communication between government agencies concerning gangs and gang activity. This data-base tracks:
Drive-by violence is also usually related to gang activity. Those involved with such violence can be charged with assault in the first degree; which is a class 3 felony, unless it occurs in the sudden heat of passion - when it becomes a class 5 felony. It is assault in the first degree if a person commits the assault:
Those involved with such violence may also be charged with assault in the second degree, which is a class 4 felony, unless it occurs in the sudden heat of passion - when it becomes a class 6 felony. It is assault in the second degree if a person:
Anyone involved with a drive-by crime may also be charged with menacing. Menacing is when, by threat or physical action, one places another person in fear of serious bodily injury. If committed by the use of a deadly weapon, menacing is a class 5 felony; otherwise it is a class 3 misdemeanor (18-3-206).
Illegal discharge of a firearm
Any person who fires a gun (of any kind) into any structure where there might be people, into any motor vehicle, or into any place where people live commits the crime of illegal discharge of a firearm. This is a class 5 felony. If a police officer fires into an occupied building while doing his job, it is not a crime (18-12-107.5).
back to top
Any person who destroys, defaces, removes, or damages any historical monument commits a class 2 misdemeanor. Any person who defaces, aids in defacing, or allows the defacement of public or private property without the consent of the owner commits a class 2 misdemeanor. Using paint, spray paint, ink, or any other substance or object to mar the surface of the property constitutes this defacement (18-4-509). The driver's license or permit of any driver, minor driver, or provisional driver will immediately be revoked if said driver has been found guilty of property defacement (42-2-125(II)(n)).
back to top
A person commits harassment if they do any of the following with the intent to annoy or alarm another person:
Harassment can also be the result of stalking, if a person threatens another and in connection with this threat follows the person or a member of his/her family, or if a person threatens another and then repeatedly attempts to communicate with that person or a member of the person's family in connection with the threat. Harassment by stalking is a class 6 felony the first time it happens, and becomes a class 5 felony if repeated.
Sexual harassment is generally defined as any kind of sexual misconduct. Sexual Harassment is divided into 2 types:
1. Where submission to or rejection of sexual advances by a person is used as a factor in decisions about hiring, firing, evaluation, promotion, or other aspects of employment.
2. Where this conduct unreasonably interferes with the person's job or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment. When sexual harassment occurs in the work place, employers have the first responsibility to deal with the problem. If the situation is not dealt with, the victim(s) of the harassment may choose to file a formal complaint in the courts. Under Colorado law it is illegal for an employer to refuse to hire, to discharge, to promote, to demote, or to discriminate against any person in regard to sex. It is also illegal for any employer to fire an employee because they have brought about a law suit or are involved in a court case due to sexual harassment/discrimination (24-34-402). If a person or an organization is found to have been discriminatory, they may be ordered to take action in regard to: back pay, hiring, reinstatement, upgrading of employees, etc (24-34-405).
back to top
Hearings in juvenile court may be conducted in an informal manner. The general public will be allowed into the courtroom unless the court decides that this is not in the best interest of the child. In this case, only people with special interests in the case will be admitted. A verbatim record of the arguments will be taken. When more than one child is thought to have been neglected or is said to be dependent, the cases of all the children may be considered at the same time. However, separate hearings may be held in regard to disposition. Children's cases will be heard separately from adults' cases (19-1-106). When more than one minor is named in a petition or when more than one petition is filed against more than one juvenile in regard to the same event, then the court proceedings may be combined.
back to top
It is illegal to deposit, throw, or leave any litter in any public or private property, or in any water. If the property is designated by law for the disposal of such material and the offender is authorized to use the property, if the litter is placed in a container designed for such a purpose, or if the property belongs to the offender, or he/she is authorized by the owner to do so, then the crime of littering has not been committed. Littering is a class 2 petty offense. Upon first conviction, there is a mandatory fine of not less than $20 and not more than $500. Upon a second conviction, there is a mandatory fine of not less than $50 and not more than $1,000. Upon a third or subsequent conviction, the mandatory fine rises to not less than $100 and not more than $1,000. It is in the discretion of the court to suspend any or all of the fine upon the condition that the person either removes the litter from the property where the offense took place, or agrees to pick up litter at a time and place decided on by the court. This agreement to pick up litter must last for 8 or more hours for a first offense, and 16 or more hours for a second or subsequent offense (18-4-511).
back to top
If a person is said to be loitering, it means that he/she is standing around idly, lingering, delaying, wandering around, remaining, or tarrying in a public place. It is a class 1 petty offense for a person to loiter within 100 feet of a school building if school aged children are on the grounds or in the building, if the person has no business at the school (18-9-113). It is illegal for an individual or a corporation to intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly obstruct a highway, street, sidewalk, building entrance, or any other passage used by the public or a substantial group of people. Disobeying the request of a peace officer, firefighter, or a person of authority in his/her attempt to prevent such an obstruction is also illegal. These are class 3 misdemeanors (18-9-107).
back to top
Lottery and Gambling
It is illegal to sell a lottery ticket to anyone under the age of 18. It is also illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to purchase a lottery ticket. It is not against the law, however, to give a person under 18 a lottery ticket as a gift (24-35-214). Any person who violates this law has committed a class 2 misdemeanor (24-35-215) which is punishable by not less than 3 months imprisonment, or a $250 fine, or both; but not more than 12 months imprisonment or a $1,000 fine, or both (18-1-106). Any person who sells a lottery ticket to a minor has not only committed a class 2 misdemeanor and may be punished as stated above, but may also be charged with having contributed to the delinquency of a minor. This is a class 4 felony (24-35-215).
back to top
Because noise often has an adverse effect on human beings physiologically and psychologically, the general assembly has established statewide standards for noise level limits during various time periods in various areas (25-12-101). If the sound levels of a noise are above the given limit when heard 25 feet away, then the noise is a public nuisance. The established noise limits are:
"Residential zone" refers to an area where houses, apartments, etc. are located. It may or may not include hotels/motels or limited office development, but no retail shops. "Commercial zone" refers to an area where offices, clinics, shopping centers, hotels, motels, gas stations, retail or commercial businesses are located. It can also mean a commercially dominated area where multiple-unit dwellings (i.e. apartments) are located. A " Light Industrial zone" is one in which there are clean and quiet research laboratories, warehouses, clean and quiet industrial activities, or where the general environment is free from concentrated industry. An "Industrial zone" is an area where noise restrictions on industry are necessary to protect neighboring properties (25-12-103).
back to top
Parents' Rights and Responsibilities
The "parent and child relationship" is the legal relationship existing between a child and his/her natural or adoptive parents. Within this relationship there are rights, privileges, duties, and obligations specified by law (19-4-103). It is justifiable and not criminal for a parent, guardian, or other person entrusted with the care of a minor to use reasonable and appropriate physical force upon the minor to the extent that it is reasonably necessary and appropriate to maintain discipline or to promote the welfare of the minor (18-1-703). If a minor over the age of 16 wishes to be married, he/she must have the consent of both parents if his/her parents are married or the permission of the parent with legal custody if they are not. If a minor under the age of 16 wishes to be married, he/she must have the permission of his/her parent(s) as outlined above, and the permission of the courts (14-2-106(I)). Parents are responsible for paying for damages caused by their children. Any person, partnership, corporation, association, or religious organization is allowed to recover damages of not more than $3,500 in court from the parents of each minor who damages or destroys property or causes bodily injury (13-21-107). Any person who aids or encourages a child to violate any federal or state law, municipal or county ordinance, or court order commits the crime of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. This is a class 4 felony (18-6-701). The parent, guardian, or legal custodian of the minor is required to attend all court proceedings concerning the minor. Failure to do so may subject the parent, guardian, or legal custodian to contempt sanctions (19-2-109).
back to top
Sexual assault is also sometimes known as rape.
Sexual assault in the first degree
When someone forces another person to have sex against his/her will through the actual use of violence or through the threat of physical violence in the future, this is sexual assault in the first degree. Sexual assault also occurs when the victim's power to appraise or control the situation is impaired by any drug, alcohol, or any other means used to cause submission. Sexual assault in the first degree is a class 3 felony, unless:
Sexual assault in the second degree
If the person committing the assault is at least 4 years older than the victim is, while the victim is less than 15 years of age, then sexual assault in the second degree has been committed (this is sometimes called statutory rape). Sexual assault in the second degree also occurs when someone in a position of trust (i.e. a doctor, police officer, etc.) uses his/her position to cause submission by the victim. Sexual assault in the second degree is a class 4 felony (18-3-403).
Sexual assault on a child
Sexual assault on a child occurs when anyone submits a victim who is younger than 15 years old to any sexual contact (as long as the person committing the crime is at least 4 years older than the victim is). sexual assault on a child is a class 4 felony, but becomes a class 3 felony when:
back to top
It is illegal for minors (those under the age of 18) to purchase tobacco products in the State of Colorado. Tobacco products include cigarettes, cigars, and chewing tobacco, and also every other kind of tobacco product prepared in such a manner that it might be chewed or smoked in a pipe or otherwise (39-28.5-101). Not only does this mean that it is illegal for a retailer to personally sell tobacco to a minor, it also means that the sale of tobacco products to a minor through a vending machine is prohibited (24-35-503). If a minor does succeed in buying a tobacco product, he/she has committed a class 2 petty offense. If caught, the minor faces a $100 fine, or community service (amounting to $5 per hour spent serving the community until the fine is paid) (18-13-12(2a)). The person who sold the tobacco to the minor has committed a class 2 petty offense as well, and will have to pay a $200 fine if convicted (18-13-121(1)).
back to top
Very often youth receive stolen property from friends. In Colorado if a young person receives stolen property and is aware that it is stolen, he/she may be convicted and punished whether or not the person who stole the property is tried or punished (18-4-404). A more serious crime involving stolen property involves the theft of motor vehicles. Any person who knowingly takes a vehicle without authorization is subject to fines and felony charges (18-4-409).
For more information see theft.
back to top
Robbery occurs when a person knowingly takes anything of value from another person by the use of force, threats, or intimidation. Robbery is a class 4 felony (18-4-301).
Aggravated robbery is when robbery is committed by a person who:
Concealment of goods
Concealment of goods is commonly referred to as "shoplifting." If a person conceals unpurchased goods owned by, held by, or offered by a store for sale, whether the concealment is on his/her body or somewhere else, he/she may be charged as having intended to commit the crime of theft (18-4-406). An adult or an emancipated minor who takes possession of any merchandise from any store without having paid for it will not only be responsible for paying the actual price of the item, but also a fine paid to the owner of the store for not less than $100 and no more than $250. The parents of any unemancipated minor will be responsible for paying not only for the stolen item, but also the fine to the owner of the store (13-21-107.5(2-3)).
back to top
Any person who knowingly damages the property of another person commits the crime of criminal mischief. This is a class 3 misdemeanor if the damage to the property is less than $100. It is a class 2 misdemeanor when the damage to the property is more than $100, but less than $500. It is a class 4 felony if the damage to the property is $500 to $1,500. Where the damage to the property is $1,500 or more, it is a class 3 felony (18-4-501). Any county, city, town, school district, person, partnership, corporation, association, or religious organization is entitled to recover damages of not more than $3,500 from the parents of each minor who maliciously or wilfully destroys or damages property. Court costs and reasonable attorney fees may also be recovered (13-21-107(1)).
back to top
Work, Work Permits, and Taxes
Because the State of Colorado recognizes the importance of education, it has established limits for the number of hours and the ages at which minors may work. On school days, during school hours, no minor under the age of 16 is allowed to work unless he/she has obtained a school release permit. Such a permit may only be issued by the school district superintendent, his/her agent, or a person given this responsibility by the board of education. The school release permit will be issued only for a specific job, with a specific employer and will only be good for a specific length of time (not more than 30 days). This permit will not be issued if the type of employment does not follow state guidelines (given below), if the minor's parents do not approve, or if working does not appear to be in the minor's best interest. Even if a school release permit is issued, the minor must attend school for 3 class hours each day. If the minor is fired or quits, the employer shall return the school release permit (8-12-113).
After school hours, no minor under the age of 16 will be permitted to work more than 6 hours in one day, unless the next day is not a school day. Except for baby-sitters, no minor under the age of 16 is allowed to work between 9:30p.m.-5:00a.m. Minors may not work more than 40 hours per week or more than 8 hours in any 24 hour period. In cases of emergency, employers can get permission for minors to work longer than 8 hours in 24 hours, but in that case the minor must be paid-time-and-a-half for the extra hours of work. In seasonal employment dealing with perishable products, minors may work more than 40 hours a week, but cannot work more than 30 hours in a 72 hour period (8-12-105).
Minors age 9 and over may work as:
Minors shall not be permitted to work in any of the following occupations, which are hazardous, without having first received special training:
back to top
Home Courts Educational Resources Youth and the Law List of Laws
Home Courts Educational Resources Youth and the Law List of Laws List of Laws