Recent Articles

Some Facts about the Texas Juvenile Justice System

It is difficult for most adults to think of a child as a criminal, but the sad truth is the children of today have become inured to violence on many levels. There has been a constant debate on what caused this shift, but whatever that is the fact remains that while juvenile offenders should have the benefit of rehabilitation and training, this is not always possible. Society also has to be protected against the habitual violent juvenile offender. Texas juvenile justice system addresses these issues.

Juvenile offenders in Texas typically fall under the Juvenile Justice Code of the Texas Family Code if a criminal act was done by an individual between 10 and 16 years of age. Any person 17 years and older that commits the same crime falls under the criminal court for adults.

The juvenile court decides if a juvenile offender has to be transferred to adult criminal court. This will depend on the age of the child at the time of the crime and the nature of the crime. For capital felonies, aggravated drug felonies, or first degree felonies, a child of 14 may be tried as an adult. For second or third degree felonies, however, the child has be at least 15 years old. The transfer is not automatic; the juvenile court judge will hear the arguments of the criminal defense lawyer for retaining the child under the juvenile justice system and weigh it against the potential harm the child may pose to society.

It is a significant benefit to the juvenile offender to be retained under the juvenile justice system. The punishment meted out to a juvenile is much lighter than the sentence that may be handed down for the same offense when tried in adult court. As pointed out on the website of Mark T. Lassiter, the consequences of a felony conviction to a child’s future are considerable, so every effort must be made to mitigate the results. However, the juvenile court has to transfer a child if the offender has already been certified to adult court.

It should also be noted that even if the juvenile is tried under the juvenile justice system, it may result in determinate sentencing. This means that the child may be committed to juvenile detention for later transfer to adult prison upon attaining the age of 18. At that point, the term may be extended for up to 40 years. This type of sentencing is reserved for juveniles that habitually engage in felonious conduct. In other words, they exhibit a propensity for serious or violent crime that they will likely carry on to adulthood. Juveniles that received determinate sentencing will not be eligible for having their criminal records sealed or restricted.

If your child is facing serious criminal charges, you must engage the services of an experienced criminal defense lawyer. The age of the child is no protection from severe consequences; failing to get proper representation can result in lifelong repercussions to your child’s future.