One of the worst calls a parent can receive is that their child is in jail. It is even worse if your child is a juvenile. A million thoughts can run through your head, and the thought of being separated from your child is devastating.
There are many questions you will want answered:
- Can my juvenile child be held in jail?
- Can they go to juvenile prison?
- Can they be tried as an adult?
- How will this change their future plans?
- Do they need a juvenile defense lawyer?
- Will this ever come off of their record?
The first thing to remember is to stay calm and seek legal advice as soon as possible. Many parents assume that Juvenile cases aren’t worth fighting as they automatically “fall off your record”. This is not necessarily true. Juvenile cases can be extremely serious and can follow a juvenile for the rest of their life in some cases.
Make sure to protect your child and protect their rights. It is not about just going to court and getting a plea deal done. It is about investigating the case as if their life was on the line and fighting the case. Way too many lawyers just go through the motions on juvenile cases. They say, “there is no need in fighting this case, take your probation and get it sealed. No one will ever know.”. Really?
I know darn sure if it was my kid, and they told me that they were not guilty, we would be fighting the case to the end. Why take a deal if you aren’t guilty. The mindset of some of the lawyers down at the Juvenile court just blows me away at times.
These are criminal accusations! You need to protect yourself at all costs.
What do I do if my juvenile child is under investigation?
Do not allow them to talk to the police! You should inform law enforcement that you will be retaining a lawyer and that your child will not be making a statement without an attorney. Police interviews are basically fishing trips. They are either fishing for information to arrest you, or fishing for a confession. Neither are good for you. The police are never coming over to hear your side of the story and clear you, NEVER.
Call me ASAP and I can personally talk to the investigator on the case and inform them that your child is not going to talk to them, and ask politely for them to leave you alone.
Bottom line is, if they are going to arrest you, they are going to arrest you. It doesn’t matter what you say.
What do I do if my juvenile child is arrested?
Call me. We need to develop a game plan. If your child is released to you we can talk about the charges, talk about what happened, and develop a defense ASAP. If your child is in fact guilty of the case, then we need to talk about why this happened, and develop a plan on what we need to do to make sure this never happens again. At that point we will talk about the potential punishments for this case and talk about what the best resolution could be. Remember, even if you are guilty I can still help. My job is to get you the best possible outcome on your case.
Juvenile Detention Hearings In Texas
Many times a child will be detained, and taken down to the juvenile detention center. If it is not what they consider a serious case, many times they will eventually be released into the custody of their guardians. If the case however is serious, the juvenile can be detained and held at the detention center where they are basically treated like inmates.
There are no bonds for juveniles. You cannot just go down and pay a bonding company to get him out. Instead, the juvenile courts have detention hearings. The law pertaining to detention hearings can be found in the Texas Family Code section 54.01.
A detention hearing is required to be held within 2 business days after a juvenile is arrested. If they are arrested on Friday or Saturday than usually they do it within 1 business day. The juvenile and their parents will get a notice on where, and what time the hearing is. You will be allowed to hire a lawyer for your child, or if you don’t get an attorney on time they will appoint a lawyer of their choosing.
At the detention hearing the court is going to consider reports filed on the case, as well as any live testimony from witnesses. If the parents are never located, then the hearing can take place without them.
The way a detention hearing typically works is the prosecutor on the case will tell the judge what the accusation is, and the prosecutor will make a recommendation if they believe the child should be allowed to go home with the parents, or if the child should remain in custody.
I usually always talk to the parents and we develop a plan. What the court usually wants to know is:
- Where will the child live
- Will he be supervised 24/7
- Why wont this behavior happen again
I have the parents testify in front of the judge to these 3 points and we make our strongest argument to why we believe the child should be able to go home.
At the end of the hearing the court should allow the child to be released UNLESS the court thinks:
- The child will go on the run, or the parents will remove him from the jurisdiction of the court
- The child has no suitable supervision or care
- The child has no one that can take him to court
- The child is a danger to himself or others if released
- The child has previously been found to be a delinquent child or has been convicted of a case by a term in jail or prison and is likely to commit another offense if released
The court can condition the release on requirements reasonably necessary to insure the child will come back to court. The child will get a copy of all conditions of release. If the child is expelled from school, then they must attend an alternative school.
Nothing the child says at the detention hearing can be used against him.
What if your child is not released? If the judge does not release your child then your child has the right to a new detention hearing every 10 working days.
What Can Juveniles be Charged With?
Juveniles under the age of 17 can be charged with the same type of criminal cases that adults can be charged with in Texas. These crimes include:
- Juvenile DWI (Or Juvenile DUI if their test was under .08)
- Hit and Run Cases (Failure to Stop and Give Information, Failure to Stop and Render Aid)
- Theft (Shoplifting, Embezzlement, Possession of Stolen Property)
- Possession of a Controlled Substance
- Possession of Marijuana
- Sex Crimes (Sexual Assault, Indecency with a Child, Indecent Exposure, etc)
- Evading Arrest on foot or in a motor vehicle
- Assault Cases (Assault-Family Member, Assault-Bodily Injury, Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon)
- Other Intoxicated Offenses (Intoxicated Manslaughter, Intoxicated Assault, etc)
Children can be charged with just about anything an adult can be charged with. It is very important to have a lawyer who has your best interest at mind and is willing to do whatever it takes to make sure this doesn’t follow your child forever.
Can Juveniles be Tried as Adults?
If the case is extremely serious, the juvenile prosecutors could petition to move the case to adult court. You do not want this to happen! The juvenile system is meant for rehabilitation. A juvenile has their entire life ahead of them. And the juvenile system is also favorable to the child in the ability to seal their record and try to make it where this charge does not show up in the future. If the child is considered an adult all the protections given to a child in the Juvenile system are gone. They are treated like any other adult in Texas would.
Children are usually only certified as adults if they commit a very serious felony, or if they have a very bad criminal background. Typically the child has to be at least 15 to be considered an adult. But for extremely serious cases such as murder, the age range can drop to 14.
It is essential to get a lawyer ASAP if there is any possibility that your child might be certified as an adult. We need to protect them now, time is essential.
What are the consequences of Juvenile Crimes?
It is going to depend a lot of what type of case it is. On many misdemeanors (assuming we decide not to fight the case to trial for whatever reason) the best result is to take a deferred prosecution. This is basically a probation where there is no prosecution of the case if they successfully complete the probation.
If deferred prosecution is not offered by the DA or the judge, then it could be a standard probation, typically until the age of 18.
If the case is serious there could be a recommendation of jail time in TYC (Texas Youth Commission). Some cases can even be transferred to TDCJ (Adult Prison) once the child reaches age.
Again, it will all depend on the type of case your child is charged with. Call me for any specific questions.
Sealing a Juvenile Record
Beginning on 9/1/2015 juvenile records could potentially be automatically “sealed”. Before you had to hire a lawyer to do this for you, but now this process could potentially happen on its own. This is only for cases after 9/1/2015. The name given to this process of automatic sealing is restricted access.
Restricted access limits the information to only certain governmental agencies. The records are not destroyed as they would be in an adult expunction, but they be restricted from view to the public.
However, if you commit a crime after the age of 17 and get convicted (or placed on deferred adjudication) then those records can be unrestricted and visible once again. At that point you would still have to get an attorney to petition the court to seal the records that you had when you were a juvenile.
It is still in your child’s best interests to file a Motion to Seal their juvenile records.
Bottom Line of Juvenile Cases
This is a criminal case with real live consequences. Consequences that can follow your child FOREVER. You do not have to go through this alone. You have the right to pick your own lawyer. Someone you feel comfortable with, and someone who you feel has your child’s best interests in mind.
I have represented numerous juveniles over the years. I have seen the pain parents go through when their babies are in front of a judge. I will fight for you, and I will fight for your child. I will do everything in my power to get the case thrown out if they are not guilty. Or I will steer you to the best possible outcome if your child did in fact make a mistake.