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4 Colorado teens nabbed for van theft after runaway spotted

Colorado is one of a number of states where children as young as 12 may be tried and punished as adults, under state statute 19:2-104. Most juvenile offenses are resolved in courts designed for minors. Some cases are elevated to an adult court depending on the child's age, the seriousness of the alleged offense, the juvenile's record and the prosecutor's desire to transfer the case.

Four Colorado Springs teens were arrested recently and charged with first-degree aggravated vehicle theft, greater than $20,000. The value of a stolen vehicle determines the severity of the charge, according to state law 18:4-409. The teens also were charged with first and second-degree attempted assault on a police officer and resisting arrest.

Reports said the arrests were made after police received a tip that a juvenile listed on Facebook as a runaway was seen at a Buena Vista store. The teen customer drove away before police arrived, but store employees provided a description of the juvenile's Dodge van. The same citizen who initially contacted authorities then reported seeing the teen at a motel.

Police went to the motel and found the juvenile and the vehicle, which had been stolen. The reported runaway and three other teens in the van ran away. The four unidentified juveniles were captured about 30 minutes later.

Two teens apparently were runaways. One of the juveniles was wanted by El Paso County for an undisclosed offense. The fourth teen faces additional charges for drug paraphernalia possession.

Most theft cases involving individuals under 18 move through the Colorado juvenile justice system. The legal process can be bewildering for a child facing detention or probation, even at the juvenile court level. The confusion doesn't lessen when a juvenile is tried as an adult, but penalties significantly increase.

Parents should not try to navigate the legal system for their children. Mistakes could jeopardize your child's future.

Source: The Chaffee County Times, "Chase ends in arrests" Maisie Ramsay, Mar. 12, 2014

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