Juvenile Crime Attorney Williamson County, TX
Defense for Juvenile Charges in Georgetown & Round Rock
States vary on the age that they consider to be a juvenile. Most states consider a juvenile to be 18 years old and under. There are some that recognize a person 16 and younger as a juvenile. In the state of Texas, a juvenile falls between these two. Someone that is 17 and younger is seen as a juvenile and can be charged with a juvenile crime. There is a lower age limit as well, a person has to be over 10 years old to qualify as a juvenile.
If they are 10 or younger, they are deemed to lack criminal intent and often cannot tell right from wrong. Juvenile crimes are basically crimes committed by a person who is too young to be considered an adult. The procedures that follow a juvenile crime are quite different from those that follow an adult offense.
What Happens When a Juvenile Commits a Crime?
When law enforcement finds out that a juvenile has committed a crime, they could arrest the juvenile offender. Oftentimes, law enforcement handles these cases differently than others, they could handle the situation in any of the following ways:
- Issue a warning to the juvenile: the minor could be detained and given a warning and then released.
- Hold the minor in custody until a parent arrives: the police could detain the minor, give them a warning and then release them to a parent.
- Refer the minor to juvenile court: the police can place the minor in custody and refer the case to go to juvenile court
Texas Juvenile Court Proceedings
If the police officer chooses to refer the case to juvenile court, a prosecutor or juvenile court officer takes over from there. The prosecutor or probation officer can choose to dismiss the case, hold an informal proceeding or file formal charges which would petition the case.
In making this decision, the officer or prosecutor will consider all of the following factors:
- The specific offense
- The age of the minor
- The minor's past record
- The strength of the evidence against the juvenile
- The sex of the minor
- The parent's role and ability to control the behavior of the minor
There is a large amount of cases that are dismissed or held informally when it comes to juvenile crimes. An informal proceeding involves the juvenile appearing before the judge or probation officer. This process does not involve formal charges, but there are activities and penalties that could be ordered. The juvenile system tends to focus on rehabilitating the minor rather than punishing. The adult system is mainly focused on penalties, while the juvenile system wants to change these behaviors to prevent future offenses.
Some of the activities they order include:
- After-school classes
- Fines and restitution
- Community service
If the case is petitioned, the case will proceed formally. This involves arraigning the minor in front of a judge in juvenile court. The juvenile will then enter into a plea agreement, the judge can "divert" the case or the judge will hold an adjudicatory hearing.
Diverting the case means that the judge keeps jurisdiction over the case while the minor performs the actions required and if they fail to fulfill them, the court can reinstate charges. If the case goes to trial, there will be evidence presented and the judge will determine the result of the case. The ruling is called "sustaining the petition" and the judge will determine what the best interest of the minor is and make decisions accordingly.
Contact a Williamson County Juvenile Crimes Attorney
If your child is facing criminal charges, contact R. Scott Magee, Attorney at Law for the aggressive and experienced representation that you need. Our firm is also skilled when it comes to sealing a juvenile's record so that their charges do not taint their record forever.
Call today at (512) 600-1560 to schedule your free case evaluation with our Williamson County juvenile crimes lawyer!
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