When an individual under the age of 18 commits a crime, it is called a juvenile crime. Some states vary on the age that someone becomes an adult but in Texas, 17 and younger is considered a juvenile. There is a minimum age limit as well; children below the age of 10 do not fit the juvenile title because they are thought to be unable to have criminal intent with their actions. While a juvenile crime is not punished the same as the criminal offense by an adult, the consequences are still severe. If your child has been arrested, he or she may not face jail time or harsh fines but their punishment may include counseling or treatment. The purpose is to help adolescents while they are still young to avoid a reoccurrence when they are adults. In Texas, the idea is that counseling will help juveniles learn and change their actions early because as they grow up change can become harder.
Oftentimes individuals between ages 10-17 do not fully understand that they are doing something wrong and with counseling, the state of Texas believes minors can move forward and make better decisions in the future. Juvenile crimes can be any range of criminal offenses, including:
- Drug crimes
- Robbery or burglary
- Underage drinking
- Shoplifting or stealing
- Traffic violations
- Weapons charges
- Murder and Manslaughter
While the crime may be severe, there are different regulations when charging a minor. Delinquency petitions are given in the majority of cases involving juveniles. The process involves an adjudication hearing where the judge makes the decision of whether the adolescent committed the criminal offense that he or she is being charged with. The judge may then impose a punishment. The penalties that a juvenile may receive from the hearing include:
- Texas Youth Commission Commitment (this is a commitment to a juvenile correction facility in Texas)
- Driver's License Suspension
- Community service
If a delinquency petition does not seem appropriate for your child's case, determinate sentencing is another path that could be taken. This sentencing is generally used for more serious offenses. Determinate sentencing involves being put in the Texas Youth Commission (TYC) for a certain amout of time. The time spent at this juvenile correction facility will vary based on the degree of the offense. The penalties are given based on the following guidelines:
- 1st degree felony: 40 years maximum
- Aggravated Controlled Substances Felony: 40 years maximum
- 2nd degree felony: 20 years maximum
3rd degree felony: 10 years maximum
If this is the route chosen by the judge, the juvenile with remain in the correction facility until they are an adult and at that point there is the possibility that they could be transferred to a state prison for the rest of their sentence. The last possibility is charging the juvenile as an adult. This is possible if the criminal offense is more serious and if the juvenile has already been in the system several times. The child must be at least 14 years of age for this to even be an option and there will be a thorough investigation before the judge makes this decision.
Does your child need representation from a juvenile crime lawyer in Dallas?
The key to having a favorable result in your child's juvenile crime case is to have experienced legal representation. The attorneys at D'Amore Law Firm are familiar with all variations of sentencing and penalties that may arise. Provide your child with the best opportunity for a clean record by
calling a Dallas criminal defense lawyer today! We offer a free case evaluation so you can ask questions and discuss your child's unique case with our firm at no cost to you!