Houston Juvenile Defense Lawyer
As a parent, the taking of your child into custody is one of the most frightening experiences you can have. You likely have many questions, such as whether your child will face jail time, how the juvenile system compares to the adult criminal system, what options you have, and how the case will affect your child’s future. We can help answer your questions and defend your child. Our mission is to help ensure that your child’s future is affected as little as possible, if at all, by the case.
Definition of a Juvenile
A juvenile in the state of Texas is a child who is at least 10 and who is under 17. A child also includes 17 year olds who are in the juvenile system for their actions alleged to have been committed before the child turned 17. Once the child turns 18, the juvenile court typically loses its jurisdiction. Criminal cases involving a juvenile are governed by a different set of laws than adult criminal cases. While adult cases are considered “criminal”, juvenile cases implement elements of both civil and criminal law and are part of the Texas Family Code. These laws are aimed to “rehabilitate” instead of “punish” the child.
When Your Child Is Detained
If your child has been detained by police he or she is not subject to a bail or bond like in adult cases. When a juvenile is arrested, he will undergo an intake process performed by probation officials. During this process they will evaluate the home situation, the severity of the crime that was committed, and the child’s age to determine the actions that they will need to take next. Your child could be placed in confinement or released back into your custody where you must closely monitor him.
Offences Tried By A Juvenile Court
There are two types of juvenile misconduct that place a child under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court: (1) conduct indicating a need for supervision (CINS), and (2) delinquent conduct. CINS cases involve the least serious criminal offenses.
There are eight types of CINS offenses listed in the Family Code:
- Any misdemeanor punishable by fine only
- Failing to attend school for too many days
- Running away
- Inhalant abuse
- Expulsion for violation of a school district’s student code of conduct
- Failing to follow court-ordered services in a CPS case
Delinquent Conduct Includes:
- Commission of any felony offense or jailable misdemeanor
- Violation of a lawful court order under circumstances that would constitute contempt of that court in: (a) A justice or municipal court; (b) A county court for conduct punishable by fine only; or (c) A truancy court
- Commission of driving, flying or boating while intoxicated, intoxication assault or intoxication manslaughter
- A third (or subsequent) offense of driving under the influence of alcohol, which requires only a detectable amount of alcohol in a minor’s system.
Consequences Your Child Could Face
If a court finds that a child has committed a CINS violation or engaged in delinquent conduct, it may place the child on varying levels of probation. This is called the Progressive Sanctions Model and is based on the seriousness of the misconduct, past offenses and any past interventions. In the most serious felony cases, the juvenile court may also have the options of determinate sentencing (a sentence of confinement in the Texas Juvenile Justice Department that has the possibility of being transferred to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice) or discretionary transfer to adult criminal court to be tried as an adult.
Protect Your Child’s Future
When your child gets involved with the wrong group of people or has suddenly made impulsive and poor choices, it can have a lasting impact on his future. Suddenly, college plans, career goals, or joining the military can be put in jeopardy. It is important that you find the right Houston juvenile defense attorney to help protect your child’s future and make every effort to ensure that the juvenile record contains the least possible impact on your child’s future.