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Bill limiting DA's in youth cases passes Colo. House

March 19, 2012
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photo - In this photo taken on Tuesday, March 6, 2012, Gary Flakes, 31, is pictured at a park in downtown Colorado Springs, Colo.  Flakes at the age of 16 was tried as an adult convicted of criminally negligent homicide and accessory to murder and sentenced to 15 years in prison. Flakes said the judge should have sentenced him as a juvenile because he was not convicted of the original charge. Worried that too many Colorado youth are being charged as adults, lawmakers are revisiting a 1993 law that expanded prosecutors' discretion to file such charges without challenge. Republican Rep. B.J. Nikkel of Loveland has introduced a bill to change direct file by limiting prosecutors' ability to charge juveniles ages 14 to 17 as adults.  (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski) Photo by
In this photo taken on Tuesday, March 6, 2012, Gary Flakes, 31, is pictured at a park in downtown Colorado Springs, Colo. Flakes at the age of 16 was tried as an adult convicted of criminally negligent homicide and accessory to murder and sentenced to 15 years in prison. Flakes said the judge should have sentenced him as a juvenile because he was not convicted of the original charge. Worried that too many Colorado youth are being charged as adults, lawmakers are revisiting a 1993 law that expanded prosecutors' discretion to file such charges without challenge. Republican Rep. B.J. Nikkel of Loveland has introduced a bill to change direct file by limiting prosecutors' ability to charge juveniles ages 14 to 17 as adults. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski) Photo by  

DENVER — The Colorado House approved legislation that restricts prosecutors' authority to charge juveniles as adults.

The bill that now heads to the Senate would limit district attorney's power to charge youths as adults in only the most serious felonies, like murder. The decisions would also be reviewed by a judge.

Currently, prosecutors can charge youths as adults for more types of crimes and decisions are not reviewed by a judge.

The bill passed 45-20 on Monday.

Supporters say prosecutors have too much power and that too many juveniles are being charged for mid-level felonies. Defenders of the current system prosecutors are best equipped to make charging decisions and that there's no evidence of abuse.

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Online:

House Bill 1271: http://goo.gl/RCPaa

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