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