Anyone who has been charged with a juvenile offense in Texas could face detrimental consequences if they are adjudicated, or determined, guilty of the offense. Penalties can include driver’s license suspensions, criminal records, commitment to a state detention facility, probation and/or community service. Additionally, certain juvenile offenses could prevent admittance into college or graduate schools and/or an inability to apply for certain jobs.
However, juvenile criminal charges do not necessarily have to result in the most serious penalties and punishments. Certain programs are available for specific juvenile offenses, where the alleged offender is able to avoid a jail sentence and criminal record.
If you have been charged with a criminal offense and are under the age of 17, or your minor child has been arrested for a crime, it is important to hire an experienced Georgetown attorney to prevent any serious lasting repercussions to the criminal charges.
Juvenile Defense Attorney, Georgetown TX
If you or your child have been charged with any juvenile offenses in Georgetown, or any of the surrounding areas in Round Rock, Cedar Park, Leander, Taylor, Hutto, Killeen, Temple, Belton or Harker Heights, contact Price & Twine, PLLC
Attorney Michael J. Price is knowledgeable in all areas of Texas’ juvenile offender laws and will make every effort to help you or your child achieve the best possible outcome in their situation. Call Price & Twine, PLLC for a free consultation at (512) 354-1880 about your alleged juvenile crime.
- Juvenile Delinquency in Texas
- Youngest Age a Person Can Be Sentenced
- Common Georgetown Juvenile Offenses
- Penalties in Georgetown for Juvenile Crimes
- Texas Alternative Penalties for Juvenile Crimes
- Resources in Georgetown for Juvenile Offenders
Juvenile Delinquency in Texas
A juvenile in Texas is defined in section 51.02 of the Texas Family Code as an individual who is ten years old or older, but under the age of 17, or an individual who is 17 years old or older, but was under the age of 18 when they allegedly committed a delinquent offense. However, the juvenile courts only have jurisdiction over those offenders that are between the ages of ten and 17; anyone who commits an offense who is 17 or older will be prosecuted in the adult court system.
According to the Texas Family Code § 51.03, delinquent conduct in Texas is defined as:
- Any conduct in violation of a penal law in Texas that is punishable by a jail or prison sentence, such as a Class B misdemeanor through a capital felony;
- Any conduct that violates a court order that would be in contempt of court and is punishable by a fine;
- Any conduct that violates driving while intoxicated (DWI) offenses in Texas; and
- The third or subsequent driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol offense by a minor.
Texas law also provides for Conduct Indicating a Need for Supervision (CINS). This type of conduct is defined as:
- Any violation of the Texas penal laws that is punishable by fine only and not a traffic offense;
- A failure to attend school;
- Running away from home;
- Abusing inhalant substances;
- An act that violates a school’s conduct policy; and
- Conduct in violation of a court order.
What is the Youngest Age an Offender Can Be Charged With a Crime in Texas?
The Texas Penal Code has sovereign over both adult and juvenile criminal offenses. According to the Code, any person who is at least 10 years old but under the age of 18 can be charged in juvenile court. Juveniles can be charged with serious and violent crimes in juvenile court including murder, assault, and sexual offenses.
The State does permit prosecutors to charge juveniles with certain crimes as if they were adults. Prosecutors must have probable cause to transfer the case to an adult criminal court and only then can they sentence a juvenile as an adult. Children under the age of 10 will not be considered juveniles in Texas as they are deemed to lack the capacity to have criminal intent.
Common Juvenile Offenses
Minor in Possession of Alcohol – Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code § 106.05 – A juvenile can be charged with this offense if they possess an alcoholic beverage when not permitted by law. This offense is punishable as a Class C misdemeanor, which can lead to a fine for $500. Any subsequent offense can result in increased punishments.
Juvenile DWI – Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code § 106.041 – A juvenile can be charged with this offense if they operate a motor vehicle in a public place while they have any detectable amount of alcohol in their system. This offense is punishable as a Class C misdemeanor for a first offense, which can result in a $500 fine. Subsequent offenses can result in greatly increased penalties.
Public Intoxication – Texas Penal Code § 49.02 – A juvenile or minor can be charged with this offense if they appear in a public place while so intoxicated they may cause danger to themselves or another person. This offense is generally punishable as a Class C misdemeanor, which can result in a fine up to $500. Any subsequent offense can lead to harsher penalties and punishments.
Penalties for Juvenile Offenses in TX
If the judge or jury in the juvenile court system finds the child was guilty of committing a criminal offense at the adjudication hearing, the juvenile is entitled to a disposition hearing. At this hearing, the judge will determine the juvenile’s punishment or rehabilitation. A juvenile could be sentenced to any of the following penalties:
- Probation placement in the child’s home, not to exceed their 18th birthday
- Probation placement in a foster home, not to exceed their 18th birthday
- Probation in a public or private institution or agency, not to exceed their 18th birthday
- Confinement with the Texas Youth Commission for felony juvenile offenders
- Driver’s license suspension – mandatory in some situations
- Community service up to 500 hours
- Rehabilitative services
- Substance abuse treatment
- Payment of supervision fees
- Payment of court costs
A juvenile who has pled guilty or been found or adjudicated guilty of a criminal offense will likely have a criminal record. However, these criminal records are generally kept confidential except in certain circumstances. Additionally, a juvenile can have their record sealed if:
- The juvenile turns 21 who was adjudicated guilty of a felony and meets other criteria;
- Two years after leaving the juvenile system for a juvenile who was not adjudicated of a felony offense and meets other criteria; and
- Any other situation the court determines to seal a record.
If a juveniles record has been sealed, all parties involved in the juvenile case must start that no record exists. It is a violation of the law if anyone says the record exists but has been sealed.
Texas Alternative Penalties for Juvenile Crimes
Under the Juvenile Justice Code in the Texas Family Code, certain programs are permitted to provide treatment and rehabilitation to juvenile offenders in the state. Some of the programs in Williamson County (Wilco) include:
- Williamson County Juvenile Justice Alternative Education Program (J.J.A.E.P.) – This program is operated by the Williamson County Academy and is an alternative school placement program for delinquent juveniles in the county. The Williamson County Academy focuses on establishing improved behavior, attitude and performance levels that will encourage students to be successful once they have returned to normal school. This program is one of the last options before a delinquent juvenile is sent to the Texas Youth Commission.
- Juvenile Community Committee (J.C.C.) – The JCC is a first-time offender diversion program for juveniles who have committed a non-violent state jail felony or a misdemeanor offense. The offense also must not have involved the use of a firearm, knife or any other dangerous weapon. The program is voluntary and created on a referral basis, but if the juvenile fails to successfully complete the program, they are returned to the court system to be adjudicated there. The program generally consists of a meeting between the juvenile offender, community volunteers and a chairperson who then create a contract that must be completed by the juvenile within a specified time period. The terms of the contract can include restitution, community service, vocational training, counseling, rehabilitative services and/or reporting to the court. Additionally, if the juvenile successfully completes the terms of the contract and does not commit another offense in the subsequent two years, their juvenile record will be sealed by the court.
Williamson County Juvenile Services – The Williamson County Juvenile Services aims to create opportunities for juveniles in order to make positive changes in their lives and avoid subsequent arrests in the county. The Williamson County Juvenile Services is located at:
Texas Juvenile Justice Department – The Texas Juvenile Justice Department (TJJD) was created in December 2011, and the operations of both the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission (TJPC) and Texas Youth Commission (TYC) were transferred to the new TJJD. On this website, you can learn more about the agency’s mission, its policies, and how the agency is organized.
Georgetown Juvenile Offender Lawyer | Texas Defense Attorney
Contact Price & Twine, PLLC today for a consultation about your alleged juvenile offense in Williamson County, Texas. Price & Twine, PLLC are experienced Georgetown criminal defense lawyers who will make every effort to avoid serious penalties and repercussions to you or your child’s alleged offense.
Contact Price & Twine, PLLC at (512) 354-1880 for a consultation about your juvenile charges throughout Williamson County and Bell County in Texas.