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Houston Juvenile Crime Lawyers

The distinction between juvenile and adult criminal processes stands out as a testament to the state’s commitment to rehabilitating young offenders. For families and juveniles entangled in the legal system, understanding these differences is paramount. That said, the penalties for juvenile offenses can still carry long-lasting consequences, so you need to hire a team of competent Houston juvenile crime lawyers who can effectively fight for your child’s future. Contact the Sparks Law Firm today for a free initial consultation.

Juvenile Crime Lawyers | Representing Juveniles and Their Families

If you or a loved one is facing charges as a juvenile, it’s crucial to understand the nuances of the Texas juvenile system. Engaging with a knowledgeable team of Harris County criminal defense lawyers can provide invaluable guidance, ensuring that the rights and future of the juvenile are fiercely protected.

Juvenile vs. Adult Criminal Process in Texas

Though you shouldn’t underestimate the seriousness of charges brought against a juvenile, you should also understand that there are some key distinctions in the criminal process. Some of those are as follows:

  • Initiation of Proceedings: In the adult system, the process typically begins with an arrest, followed by charges. For juveniles, it starts with a “referral” to the juvenile probation department. This referral is akin to an arrest in the adult system.
  • Detention vs. Jail: Adults are taken to jail, while juveniles are taken to a juvenile detention center. The primary goal of these centers is rehabilitation, not punishment.
  • Court Proceedings: Adult offenders face a public trial. In contrast, juveniles undergo an “adjudication hearing,” which is more private and less formal. The focus is on determining the best course of action for the juvenile’s welfare.
  • Terminology: In the juvenile system, terms are deliberately less harsh. For instance, juveniles are not “convicted” but rather “adjudicated delinquent.”
  • Disposition vs. Sentencing: Upon a finding of guilt in the adult system, a sentence is imposed. Juveniles receive a “disposition” which, again, leans toward rehabilitation. This might include probation, counseling, or placement in a juvenile facility.
  • Records: Juvenile records are generally more confidential than adult records and can often be sealed or expunged upon reaching adulthood, ensuring that youthful indiscretions don’t haunt individuals for life.

When Can a Juvenile be Charged as an Adult in Texas?

Texas law acknowledges that some crimes, due to their severity or the maturity of the offender, necessitate treatment in the adult system. The decision to transfer a juvenile to adult court is not taken lightly and hinges on several factors:

  • Age: In Texas, juveniles aged 14 or older can be transferred to adult court for certain serious offenses.
  • Nature of the Offense: Capital offenses, aggravated controlled substance felonies, and first-degree felonies are among the crimes for which a juvenile can be tried as an adult.
  • Previous Record: A juvenile with a history of delinquency might be more likely to face adult charges, especially if past interventions have failed.
  • Maturity and Responsibility: The court will consider the juvenile’s maturity level, understanding of their actions, and the potential for rehabilitation in the juvenile system.
  • Safety of the Community: If the juvenile poses a significant threat to the community, the court might decide that adult proceedings are more appropriate.

Contact Our Harris County Juvenile Crime Lawyers Today

In general, Texas recognizes the potential for change and growth in young individuals, which is why the juvenile system is geared more toward rehabilitation than punishment. However, in cases of severe crimes or repeat offenses, the law also acknowledges the need for more stringent measures. If you or a loved one is facing a juvenile offense, contact our Houston juvenile crime lawyers for a free consultation.

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