Fort Worth Juvenile Criminal Defense Lawyer
Being charged with a criminal act could drastically change your child’s life. It could negatively affect their entire future, including their college prospects, work opportunities, and overall quality of life. In case your child has been accused of a crime, the Law Office of Kyle Whitaker can help.
Our experienced Fort Worth, TX, juvenile criminal defense attorney can help you learn more about the intricacies of your child’s case, the juvenile justice system, and the best legal options for your child.
Common Juvenile Crimes in Texas
Traffic Court Crimes: Reckless driving, DWI or DUI, driving with a suspended license, and hit-and-run
Marijuana Crimes: Marijuana possession, felony possession, delivery or sale of marijuana
Drug Crimes : Juvenile possession of alcohol, drugs, or possession of these substances on school grounds, drug paraphernalia possession, or possession of controlled substances
Theft/Property Crimes : Arson, theft, dealing stolen property, shoplifting, and vandalism
Violent Crimes : possession of weapons on school property, assault and battery, aggravated assault, unlawful firearm possession
Sex Crimes : sexting, indecent exposure, sexual assault , lascivious and lewd behavior, battery, or sexually motivated offenses that a juvenile commits against younger individuals
Understanding The Texas Juvenile Justice System
In Texas, juveniles are defined as individuals who were 10 years old but not older than 16 years old at the time they committed an offense defined under the law as conduct in need of supervision (CINS) or delinquent conduct. When a juvenile is charged with any crime in Texas, they will be subject to special rules and procedures . While juveniles are given the same exact legal rights as adults who are charged with a crime, the juvenile court usually hears most juvenile cases.
In addition, while penalties for adjudicated or convicted juveniles are not as severe as penalties for convicted adults because the juvenile justice system aims to rehabilitate juveniles, your child could still face probation, detention, and other penalties. Fortunately, juvenile records can be sealed to give convicted juveniles a chance to start over without the stigma of a criminal record. However, not all juvenile records will be sealed. This option is not available for juveniles who have committed serious criminal offenses and those that have committed sex crimes and must register as sex offenders .
What Happens When a Juvenile Commits an Offense?
Juveniles who engage in a CINS violation or delinquent conduct are typically referred to juvenile court and, depending on their exact violation, could be ordered to return home or be charged with an offense. A CINS violation is any conduct, not counting traffic offenses, that involve offenses that are punishable by a fine, such as sexting, running away, school expulsion, inhalant abuse, and prostitution.
In the event that a juvenile is charged with delinquent conduct, the juvenile court will hear the case. Delinquent conduct involves offenses that violate the United States or Texas criminal law and punishable by jail time or imprisonment. Furthermore, the county could request that the juvenile be certified as an adult, depending on the nature and severity of the offense. Once certified as an adult, the juvenile, for criminal purposes, will be considered as an adult, and juvenile justice system rules and protections will no longer apply.
In general, juveniles that have been convicted of delinquent conduct could face any of the following outcomes:
- Placed under probation
- If adjudicated for a felony offense, a juvenile may be given an indeterminate sentence and sent to the Texas Juvenile Justice Department (TJJD)
- If convicted for certain offenses, usually violent crimes, a juvenile may be given a determinate sentence and sent to the TJJD
Juveniles who are placed under probation but not sent to the TJJD should be discharged by the time they turn 18 years old. Likewise, juveniles that were given an indeterminate sentence and sent to the TJJD should be discharged before they turn 19 years old. Additionally, juveniles that were given a determinate sentence could be transferred when they turn 16 years old to the adult prison system, depending on their progress and behavior in TJJD.
What You Should Know About Determinate Sentencing
When your child is given a determinate sentence and depending on the offense, it might result in them serving time beyond their 19 th birthday. For example, a third-degree felony might lead to 10 years in prison, while a second-degree felony carries a maximum prison time of 20 years. Likewise, an aggravated felony involving a controlled substance, first-degree felony, or a capital offense is punishable by up to 40 years in prison.
The Texas Family Code specifies a list of crimes , which include habitual felony conduct that could lead to a juvenile getting a determinate sentence. These criminal offenses include the following:
- Capital Murder
- Aggravated Kidnapping
- Sexual Assault or Aggravated Sexual Assault
- Aggravated Robbery
- Aggravated Assault
- Felony Deadly Conduct, involving firing a firearm
- Injury to a Disabled Individual, Elderly, or Child, if the crime is considered a felony
- Criminal Solicitation
- Aggravated or First Degree Controlled Substances Felony
- Indecency involving a Child
- Criminal Solicitation of a Child or Minor
- Arson, if it involves death or bodily injury
- Intoxication Manslaughter
- Criminal Attempt to Commit Criminal Conspiracy, in cases where the attempted offense was capital murder, murder, or other qualified offenses
Get Legal Help from an Experienced Fort Worth Juvenile Criminal Defense Attorney Today
Facing a criminal charge could be overwhelming and terrifying, especially for a child. As a parent, you’re probably unaware of the severity of the charge that your child is up against. While no one can ever really prepare a parent for this situation, it is your responsibility to do all that you possibly can to ensure that the legal rights of your child will be protected, and the Law Office of Kyle Whitaker can help you do that.
Our reputed Fort Worth, TX, juvenile criminal defense attorney is ready to listen to your child’s story without judgment and help you understand the charges against your child, meticulously analyze and investigate every aspect of the case, determine the best defense for your child, and aggressively fight for your child’s rights in court. Reach out to us by calling 817-332-7703 or completing our online form to schedule your confidential consultation with our juvenile criminal defense attorney in Fort Worth, TX, today.