Winters X Games crowd back in Aspen — but for court appearances
Record crowds flocked to the Winter X Games in January, and some of the event-goers were back in Aspen on Tuesday. Only this time, it was to appear in court.
Dozens of minors, nearly 40, cited for underage possession and consumption of alcohol or marijuana filled a Pitkin County courtroom to answer the petty charges levied against them by the state Department of Revenue during the X Games.
Some were local residents, while others traveled from as far away as Craig, Denver and Grand Junction to plead guilty to the charges and participate in a diversion program which, if they successfully complete it, means the transgressions won’t go on their records. About one-fourth of the defendants did not appear. Deputy District Attorney Michael Warren said “warrants might be issued” for the no-shows’ arrests.
Prosecutor Scott Turner explained to the young defendants — a scant few were with their parents — they could plead not guilty and contest the charges, plead guilty and let the legal course play out, or plead guilty and participate in a diversion program. “This is not a take-it-or-leave-it deal,” prosecutor Turner told the defendants. “The offer we make will remain open. I don’t want you to feel pressured to do anything today.”
Each defendant in attendance pleaded guilty and agreed to participate in the program. Offered by the 9th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, the 90-day program includes a drug and alcohol class. It can be completed online and takes about four hours to finish, Turner said. The cost is $65.
“Complete the class, stay out of trouble, don’t drink,” Turner said.
He said that minors who successfully complete the program won’t have the hassles of the arrests being on their record.
“There’s more work in going through our office and the diversion, but the benefit is it gets off your record, and it stays off your record,” Turner said.
Turner also offered the youngsters a bit of advice: “Tell all of your friends you made a mistake, a terrible mistake, and never want to do this again — at least until you’re 21.”
Another round of youth cited by the revenue department will appear in county court next month. Underage defendants arrested by the Aspen Police Department and Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office also are being processed.
All told, 108 summons were issued to minors for underage possession or consumption of alcohol or drugs. Twenty-three arrests were made at the X Games venue at Buttermilk ski area.
The same deal that includes a shot at the diversion program is being extended to all minor-in-possession defendants, Warren said.
This year’s Winter X Games rang up record attendance, according to event organizer ESPN.
The head count totalled 115,000 — 16,000 on Thursday, Jan. 22, 23,000 on Friday, Jan. 23, 48,000 on Saturday, Jan. 24, and 28,000 on Sunday, Jan. 25.
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