DENVER – Today, HB-1271 by Senator Angela Giron (D-Pueblo) and Senator Tim Neville (R- Littleton) passed second reading in the Senate.
HB-1271 amends the current direct file statute which states that juveniles who are at least 14 years old and who are charged with certain crimes may be prosecuted in adult court - a process known as “direct filing.”
Currently, there are two ways in which a child can be prosecuted in adult court. First, under the judicial transfer statute, a prosecutor files a motion in juvenile court and the judge holds a hearing to decide whether to transfer the case to adult court. Second, under the direct file statute, a prosecutor can charge a 14-17 year old in adult criminal court for certain offenses.
Senator Giron offered the following comment on the passage of HB-1271 today:
“Youth will still be held accountable under this bill. This will allow the worst violent offenders to be kept in adult court by district court judges, but for those youth who really can be rehabilitated, juvenile court treatment should be an option. I respect the work of District Attorneys across this state to seek justice and protect the public. However, I do not feel they are in the best position to decide whether or not an individual child is capable of rehabilitation in the juvenile court system.”
This bill will amend the state statute in four ways. It will:
Raise the age to 16 for all eligible offenses
Limit eligible offenses to serious offenses and repeat offenses
Provide the opportunity for a youth to request transfer back to juvenile court (reverse transfer)
Eliminate the mandatory minimum sentencing.
Under this legislation a youth can be direct filed for: Class one and two felonies, violent sex offenses, crimes of violence when they have prior felony adjudication, other sex assaults such as sex assault on a child or on a child in a position of trust, or when they have prior felony adjudication. Additionally, this bill would not affect sentencing for a class one felony or sentencing under lifetime sex offender statutes, but would give the court discretion to sentence a youth to a term in prison that is below the mandatory minimum sentence for crimes of violence, allowing judges into the process.
The bill will now be scheduled for a third and final reading in the Senate. The bill is sponsored in the House by Republican Representative B.J. Nikkel and Democratic Representative Beth McCann.