Fighting For Your Future In Juvenile Court
Any criminal record can interfere with a person’s future, even as a juvenile. If you or your child face criminal charges as a juvenile, you need a strong, compassionate attorney who will fight for your rights and your future. The lawyers on our team at Clarissa Fernandez Pratt, Attorney at Law, represent clients in the Texas juvenile court system. With over a decade of criminal trial experience each, our attorneys understand the law and how these charges could hurt you for years to come. We believe your future is worth fighting for.
What Makes Juvenile Law Different?
Minors can face the same charges as an adult in Texas, but certain charges are based on age, like a minor in possession of alcohol or school truancy. In addition, juveniles do not have all the rights an adult has. Common juvenile offenses include:
- Shoplifting and other minor theft charges
- Underage drinking
- Possession of drugs or drug paraphernalia
- Assault and other violent crimes
- Gang violence and weapons offenses
Penalties for low-level offenses are often less severe for juvenile crimes and offer more options for avoiding detention. The focus is on rehabilitation rather than punishment. If the case involves a severe, violent crime, the prosecution may decide to try the juvenile as an adult.
The Consequences Of A Conviction
Juveniles may not go to adult prison, but they can face detention. In felony cases, they can be sentenced to detention until the age of 21. The juvenile court system does offer some alternatives, however, such as:
- Deferred sentencing
- Diversion programs
- Drug or alcohol treatment
In addition, you can often have a juvenile record sealed, but it does not happen automatically. You must submit a request. Our lawyers will fight to minimize any penalties you face and guide you through the process of sealing your record.
Juvenile Crime In Texas: Frequently Asked Questions
When a juvenile is facing criminal charges, there are a lot of questions that can arise. Below are answers to a few of the most frequently asked questions. Additionally, we offer a free, initial consultation to answer any specific questions that you might have.
When can a child be charged with a crime?
In the state of Texas, a child under 10 years of age is not considered to be capable of having criminal intent. A child who is between the age of 10 and 16 years old can be charged with a crime and face misdemeanor or felony charges in juvenile court.
When can a juvenile be tried as an adult in Texas?
Once a juvenile turns 17 years old, they are not eligible for juvenile court and any criminal charges against them will be brought and processed in the adult criminal court system. Any juvenile who is 14 years or older, can be transferred to adult criminal court for capital felonies, felonies in the first degree or felonies that include aggravated controlled substances.
Does a felony conviction stay on a child’s record forever?
Once a child turns 17, their juvenile record is restricted automatically. Only certain agencies, like law enforcement, will be able to access a criminal juvenile record. Once a juvenile record is restricted, you are legally allowed to deny that the conviction occurred. However, even though a juvenile record is automatically restricted at age 17, when a juvenile turns 19, they can petition the court to have the juvenile record sealed. This is important. Once your juvenile record is sealed, it legally no longer exists and even law enforcement agencies won’t be able to access juvenile records. Even a felony conviction and record is eligible to be sealed, as long as the crime was prosecuted in juvenile court and the juvenile was not certified as an adult. Also, there must not have been any other convictions.
Is Texas a no-tolerance state for underage DWI?
Yes. The state of Texas passed a Zero Tolerance Law for minors and alcohol consumption. If a driver is drinking under age, in other words, younger than 21 years old, and they are caught driving with any measurable amount of blood alcohol content (BAC) in their system, they will be charged with a DWI or DUI. A driving while intoxicated (DWI) charge is issued to drivers who have a BAC of .08 or higher. A driving under the influence (DUI) charge is issued to drivers who have any amount of alcohol in their system.
Find Help Today
Our firm is here to help those facing juvenile crime charges in protecting the future and defending their legal rights. We offer free initial consultations. To schedule an appointment, contact our San Antonio office at 210-920-2535. You can also send us an online message.