DEFENSE TRIAL ATTORNEY
Instead of being charged with a specific crime, juveniles are usually charged with being a delinquent or engaging in delinquent behavior. The objective of the juvenile court system is to rehabilitate the juvenile.
The State of Texas defines a juvenile as a minor, older than
ten years old and under the age of seventeen. Even though
juveniles are treated differently than adult offenders the
penalties can still be severe.
The juvenile court system has different rules and generally tries to make every effort to rehabilitate the juvenile. There are sometimes extreme cases, such as serious felonies, where a juvenile may be tried as an adult. To determine if the juvenile should be tried as an adult a hearing, called a "transfer hearing", is held to determine whether the offense is serious enough to transfer the juvenile to the adult court system.
Though the laws governing juveniles may be different that that of the adult system, juveniles still have virtually the same rights as adults.
The procedure for how a juvenile case is handled in the Juvenile Courts:
Filing the Petition
The first phase of a juvenile case begins when a police agency receives information from parents, social agencies, schools or private individuals regarding the conduction of the particular juvenile. Once the police agency has conducted their investigation, a determination is made on whether there is enough evidence to pursue the case. The police agency will forward the information to the juvenile probation office, then to the district attorney who will investigate and file the petition. During the filing of the petition the juvenile may be counseled and released to parents or guardians, or he/she may be referred and sent to a community resources such as social services. He/she may also be cited and sent to juvenile intake and then released to parents or guardians, or the juvenile is transported to the Juvenile Detention Center.
If the juveniles is cited and sent to the Juvenile Detention Center, the case will be evaluated to determine if criminal charges will be filed. If the case is not filed the parents and juvenile voluntarily agree to counseling or other community services and the juvenile might be placed on probation.
If the police agency request that the juvenile be detained then a detention hearing is held within 72 hours. During the detention hearing the court will determine whether detention should be continued. After this hearing the juvenile will either be released to the custody of family or guardian or the juvenile will remain at the Detention Center.
If the juveniles in not detained and it is not a serious crime, the police agency will generally send the case to the probation department.
Once a case has been filed in the juvenile court there is a hearing where the juvenile admits to or denies the allegations. If the juvenile admits to the allegations, he/she is sentenced by the juvenile court. If he/she denies the allegations, and the case cannot be resolved then an adjudication hearing is held. At an adjudication hearing, the district attorney presents the evidence to the juvenile court. The juvenile is guaranteed the rights of due process and privilege against self-incrimination.
After the trial has been completed and the juvenile is convicted a disposition hearing is conducted. This hearing is held to determine the appropriate penalties for the offense committed.
If you are a juvenile who has gotten into trouble or a parent of a child facing criminal charges please contact one of experienced juvenile criminal attorneys for a free consultation. Since the juvenile justice system usually moves much more quickly than the adult criminal justice system it is best not to wait hire a good juvenile criminal defense attorney.
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