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Texas Juvenile Law


Texas Juvenile Law deals with crimes committed by children. The age for a youth offender in Texas is between ten and seventeen years. By federal law, a child is a person under the age of eighteen when he or she violates the law he or she is charged with. Governmental bodies, including the federal government, states and cities, prosecute various crimes committed by children, from traffic violations to felonies like rape and murder. If your child has been charged with a crime, it is essential that you seek an experienced juvenile law lawyer at once so that you can preserve his or her rights and future.

Children involved in Texas Juvenile Law Courts matters have many of the same rights their parents would have if they were accused of a crime. These rights include the right to remain silent, the right to cross-examine witnesses against them and the right to be represented by a lawyer.

When an adult is charged with a crime, he or she is brought into court in order to determine first, if he or she committed a crime, and second, the appropriate punishment. Texas Juvenile Law Court has a somewhat different emphasis.

The purpose of juvenile law court is not to punish young offenders, but to rehabilitate them. A child adjudication will generally not count as a conviction of a crime, for future job applications.

In recent years, Texas has made the emphasis of juvenile law court more like that of adult court, and focus on the punishment of young offenders. More youth are being tried in adult courts.

Texas Juvenile Detention Hearing

What Do I Need to Know if My Child is Detained or Taken into Custody?

If a child is taken into custody by the police, by law the child must have a detention hearing within 48 hours from the time he or she is taken into custody. At this initial hearing, a judicial determination of probable cause is made. This initial hearing cannot be waived. If the child is detained further, the next detention hearing must be made before the tenth working day after the initial detention order. Subsequent detention hearings must be held every 10-15 working days, unless waived.

It is important for the child to remain silent regarding the offense, as any statement made may be used against the child at a later time. This is true of information given at the intake stage and at the “social history” appointment as well.

Can the Police or the Intake Officer Require My Child to Talk to Them Without Me?

No. Your child may invoke his or her constitutional right to remain silent and to counsel, just as any adult may. Such right does not encompass non-incriminating information, such as name, parents’ names and residence, residence of child, school, work, and other identifying information. There is no duty for a police officer or an intake officer to require the presence of a parent or guardian before speaking with a child. A request by a child to see a parent prior to an interrogation is not the same as requesting an attorney.

 Is Your Child Facing a Detention Hearing?

The sole purpose of a detention hearing is to determine whether a child should be detained or released to a parent or guardian. The legal presumption is that the child should be released. The child is to be released unless one or more of the five grounds for detention is found to exist:

(1) the child is likely to abscond or be removed from the jurisdiction of the court;

(2) suitable supervision, care or protection for the child is not being provided by a parent, guardian, custodian, or other person;

(3) the child has no parent, guardian, custodian, or other person able to return him or her to the court when required;

(4) he or she is accused of committing a felony offense and may be dangerous to himself or others if released; or

(5) the child has previously been found to be a delinquent child or has previously been convicted of a penal offense punishable by a term in jail or prison and is likely to commit an offense if released.

 

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