If seeing one’s own child in trouble is not easy for any parent, watching them experience trial and juvenile detention is difficult, to say the least. Peculiarities of juvenile law bring additional burden, making the already unpleasant process even more troublesome.

There are many things that an attorney needs to know in order to build a successful case that will spare the family from unnecessary hardship. This blog post clarifies some of these peculiarities and offers insight into what to expect if you or your loved ones are in a similar situation.

Who is treated as a juvenile in the state of Texas?

Starting from the 10th up until the seventeenth birthday (both birthdays included) any person can be legally charged for criminal offenses in a juvenile court according to Texas law.

While there are ongoing discussions about postponing the legal maturity to the age of 18 in the Texas legislature, the issue is still a matter of debate. Should the age limit be moved to 18, consistency would be achieved in terms of defining what it means to be a minor under different Texas statutes.

The Texas Family Code (Title 3), and specifically the Juvenile Justice Code defines statutes related to juvenile-specific procedures, dispositions, and hearings. It also defines punishments for juvenile crimes, which can range from a Class C misdemeanor to capital murder.

What crimes can juveniles be charged as adults?

Various cases of serious offenses will see a juvenile tried as an adult, meaning that the offender may be heard in an adult criminal court.

This can happen for offenders that were 15 or older when the crime was committed, or 14 or older in case they are charged for committing a first-degree felony, a capital offense, or an aggravated controlled-substance felony.

According to the Family Code, four factors are taken into account when determining in which court the offender will be charged: the person’s maturity, previous history and the existence of a potential record, if they have committed a crime against a property or a person, as well as the likelihood of suitable protection of the public and the offender’s rehabilitation.

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Punishment for juvenile crimes in Texas

While specific intervals of time for incarceration are prescribed in connection to specific crimes for adults, there are no such limitations in juvenile courts. For example, an adult can be punished with 30 years in prison, but a juvenile can be placed on probation until they are 18 years old, or face commitment to the Texas Juvenile Justice Department until they are 19.

Drastic measures can be imposed on juveniles who have committed serious crimes – up to 40 years of imprisonment. This is referred to as a “determinate sentence”, and can result in a transfer of a juvenile to an adult court and prison.

Juveniles that are transferred to adult prison are eligible for a lifetime of incarceration with potential parole eligibility but are not subject to the death penalty or a life sentence without a possibility for parole.

Call Us For Free Consultations

It is crucial to immediately seek counsel if you or your child are facing juvenile charges. A seasoned criminal defense attorney will be able to simplify the process and alleviate much of the stress, ensuring that you face a fair trial.

Contact Benjamin Gergen at (512) 614-4412 today for free consultations and a confident legal defense.

Blog posts and resources provide researched information and do not represent legal advise or official opinion from Ben Gergen.