What Parents Should Know About Juvenile Crimes in Texas
Know What Juvenile Crimes Are in Texas
Juvenile crimes refer to unlawful acts committed by individuals who are under the age of 18. These offenses are handled by the juvenile justice system, which is separate from the adult criminal system and focuses more on rehabilitation than punishment.
Examples of common juvenile crimes include:
- vandalism, where property is deliberately damaged or defaced;
- possession or use of fake IDs, often with the intent to purchase alcohol or gain access to age-restricted venues; and
- criminal mischief, which can involve a range of activities such as trespassing, graffiti, and minor theft.
Other prevalent juvenile offenses might include underage drinking, shoplifting, and, in some cases, more serious crimes like assault or drug offenses. In juvenile court, a minor can be convicted of an offense if the criminal act occurred after they turned ten years old, and they can be charged the same as an adult (i.e. with anything from a class C misdemeanor to a first-degree or capital felony).
Know Who Commits Juvenile Crimes
In 2020, law enforcement agencies throughout the United States arrested over 424,000 juvenile offenders for various criminal offenses. The highest number of arrests were for the following crimes: property crimes, simple assault, larceny theft, and drug abuse violations.
Here is some general information about who commits juvenile offenses:
- More males than females commit juvenile offenses.
- Males are more likely to commit underage drinking offenses.
- Males commit the vast majority of violent juvenile crimes.
Know How Texas Handles Juvenile Cases
When a person under the age of 17 is charged with a crime in Texas, their case is typically presented in a juvenile court, separate from the adult court system. However, it's important to note that juveniles over the age of 14 can be tried as adults for certain serious crimes—should the prosecution elect to do so.
The legal procedures during a juvenile trial include a delinquency petition — this is how the vast majority of juvenile cases in Texas are handled. At an adjudication hearing, the judge will determine if the child did indeed commit the crime they're accused of.
If a juvenile is found guilty, the courts have a range of potential outcomes at their disposal, and juveniles can be sent to the Texas Juvenile Justice Department (TJJD) if imprisonment is a part of the penalties. For less serious crimes or for those not labeled as habitual offenders, the court may allow for the negotiation of plea agreements.
Know What to Do If Your Child Is Charged with a Juvenile Crime
When a child is charged with a juvenile crime, it can be a traumatic and challenging experience for the whole family. Understanding the intricacies of the juvenile justice system, knowing your rights, and providing the necessary support to your child during this period are crucial.
Here are some tips that aim to help you navigate the aftermath of your child being charged with a crime:
- Remember your child’s rights. Educate yourself about the rights you and your child have in the juvenile justice process. For instance, your child has the right to an attorney and the right to remain silent. As a parent, you also have rights, such as being present during questioning and having access to court records.
- Be involved in the legal process and your child’s defense. Be proactive in your child's defense. Attend all court proceedings and maintain open lines of communication with your child’s attorney. This involvement shows the court that your child has a supportive home environment, which can influence the outcome of the case.
- Educate yourself. Learn about the charges your child is facing and the potential consequences. Understanding the legal jargon and the potential outcomes will help you make informed decisions and provide the right support to your child.
- Take time to address underlying issues. If there are underlying issues like substance abuse or mental health problems that contributed to your child’s behavior, seek professional help. Addressing these issues not only aids your child's defense but is also crucial for their overall well-being.
- Be there for your child’s emotional needs as well. Facing a criminal charge can be emotionally taxing for a child. As parents, it's important to provide reassurance and emotional support. Encourage accountability, but also let them know that everyone makes mistakes and what matters most is learning and growing from them.
Know Our Team Is Here to Help
The Clark Law Firm represents clients in the following types of juvenile criminal cases:
- Criminal mischief
- Drug offenses
- Fake identification
- Juvenile vandalism
- Sex offenses
- Traffic violations
- Underage drinking
- Underage possession of alcohol
- Violation of probation
Should your child need representation, you know where to turn. Our team is backed by over three and half decades of collective professional experience, and we have successfully helped countless clients navigate their criminal cases.
Call (817) 435-4970 or reach out online to get started on your case.