Can a Minor Be Tried as an Adult in Texas?
Hearing the phone ring and learning your child is in police custody can be a parent’s worst nightmare.
Among the many questions swirling through your head, you may be wondering if it is possible that your child may be tried as an adult in criminal court in Texas. The answer depends on several factors, such as the circumstances of the alleged crime and your child’s criminal history.
Remember, the Texas courts prefer children to go through the juvenile justice system rather than adult court. The former is designed to rehabilitate the child to prevent him/her from becoming a criminal, while the latter is meant to punish those who commit criminal offenses.
The juvenile court oversees minors between 10 and 17 years of age. However, if a juvenile offender is at least 14 years of age or older, the juvenile judge has the jurisdiction to refer the child to adult court, which is known as a “judicial waiver.”
When a child is 14 years of age or older and has been charged with a capital felony, first-degree felony, or an aggravated controlled substance felony, he/she could be eligible for adult court. When a child is 15 years of age or older and has been charged with a second-degree felony, third-degree felony, or state-jail felony, he/she can be tried as an adult.
Remember, Texas has a “once an adult, always an adult” policy for felony crimes. However, this doesn’t apply the case ended in dismissal, acquittal, or reversal.
Being convicted as an adult means facing the same punishments as adults, which can include prison time, fines, and a permanent record on your criminal record. This could ruin your child’s chances of obtaining employment, applying for college, finding housing, and taking advantage of other opportunities in life.