What Happens During a Juvenile Detention Hearing in Texas?
At a juvenile detention hearing, the judge weighs certain factors and decides if the child should remain in custody before trial.
A juvenile detention hearing, which is often the juvenile’s first court appearance, resembles a bail hearing in adult court.
Since the pandemic lockdowns ended, crime rates have increased. Many observers claim juvenile crime is responsible for much of this uptick. They point out that many at-risk kids did not go back to school once live classes resumed. Since the 1990s, the juvenile arrest rate has leveled off. That arrest rate might increase again, not only because of post-pandemic enforcement but also because Texas, and most other states, now have sweeping street gang laws.
The outcome of a bail reduction hearing often affects the outcome of a case. The outcome of a juvenile detention hearing usually has the same effect.
Because so much is at stake so early, a Fort Worth criminal defense attorney must get a running start on a case. If defendants are in jail at the time of trial, most jurors assume those defendants did something wrong. Only aggressive representation from the start can reverse this curse.
Until recently, judges could consider almost anything when they decided whether to remand juveniles to their families or keep them in custody before trial. Now, the judge must only consider certain factors, which include:
- Child’s Likelihood to Abscond: Most kids aren’t old enough to drive. If the child is old enough, our Fort Worth criminal defense lawyers normally tell parents to confiscate their car keys and driver’s licenses. Sure, those things do not stop kids from driving, but these things make driving a lot harder.
- Level of Supervision: A parent’s promise to “do better” often rings hollow. Most parents will say practically anything to keep their children out of jail. In contrast, if the parent has closely supervised the child in the past, the judge may view the current offense as an isolated incident that is not likely to happen again.
- Future Court Dates: Usually, kids need someone to remind them to be at a certain place at a certain time and also someone to get them there. If parents got up to get their kids to school in the past, they are likely to do it again.
The other two factors, which are not quite as important, are the child’s danger to society and the child’s criminal record. The detention hearing, like a bond hearing, decides if the child will show up in court if not detained. The detention hearing is not about punishment.
Court-Appointed or a Private Fort Worth Juvenile Defense Attorney
If the child does not have a lawyer at the detention hearing, the judge will most likely appoint one. Lawyers, whether they are appointed or retained, usually do not do too well when they must advocate on the fly. Preparation is usually the key to success. That takes time, and court-appointed lawyers simply do not have the time.
Furthermore, families have no choice in the matter when it comes to a court-appointed lawyer. The judge’s appointment is final. It does not matter if the lawyer is incompetent or has a poor bedside manner. Especially in juvenile cases, both these things are important.
Additionally, using a court-appointed lawyer sends a bad message. The parents basically say they do not care about their child’s criminal matter. If the parents have this attitude, judges almost always lock up children before trial, as outlined above.
Connect With a Tough-Minded Tarrant County Lawyer
A good start makes a good finish much more likely. For a confidential consultation with an experienced juvenile defense attorney in Fort Worth, contact the Law Office of Kyle Whittaker. Convenient payment plans are available.