If your child is under 18 and is arrested for a crime in Texas, they will likely be charged as a juvenile. Should this occur, a parent or guardian will likely have many questions- Will my child go to jail? Will my child have a permanent criminal record? How is the juvenile justice system different from the criminal justice system?
The juvenile justice system is foreign to most, which is why we felt it important to educate parents and guardians on what to expect if their child is taken into custody.
Juvenile Charges are Different Than Adult Criminal Cases
Juvenile cases have aspects of both criminal and civil law. In a juvenile case, unlike an adult case, the child is treated as someone in need of rehabilitation. However, over the years, courts and prosecutors in Texas have started to move away from rehabilitation. A juvenile record can now follow a child into adulthood. This can make it substantially more difficult for them to get into college, the military or find a job. For this reason, one should aggressively fight any juvenile charges. Also, for the most serious types of charges, a juvenile can be certified and tried as an adult, and, if convicted, could have a permanent criminal record and face possible prison time.
Options Available To You
There are many options available to you in a juvenile case.
- We can get the case dismissed by evaluating the evidence to determine if the State of Texas violated your Constitutional rights.
- We can get a deferred prosecution agreement (explained below).
- If your child does not like the previous options offered, he or she has a right to trial forcing the State to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
Deferred prosecution is an option in some juvenile cases. Deferred prosecution is an agreement between the juvenile and the State of Texas. It usually lasts 6 months. If successfully completed, the prosecutor will dismiss the charges and the juvenile will have an immediate right to seal his or her records. In some cases, the prosecutor will be opposed to deferred prosecution. The lawyers at Smith & Vinson Law Firm have experience in persuading prosecutors to offer this type of agreement.
Once your child has been taken into custody a probation officer will conduct an investigation. The probation officer will interview the child, evaluate his or her relationships, history with substance abuse, along with a number of other factors and give a recommendation as to what type of sentence should be offered. The probation officer will then complete a summary report that will be forwarded to the prosecutor handling the case. The experienced juvenile attorney can and should obtain a copy of this report, review it, and negotiate with the prosecutor on your child’s behalf.
A Knowledgeable Juvenile Defense Attorney Is Critical
Any parent or guardian who has a child facing charges should immediately contact a juvenile attorney that has experience representing minors in the greater Austin area. An experienced juvenile attorney can work to ensure your child’s rights are not violated. The juvenile attorney will be able to request evidence on your child’s behalf, file motions, negotiate with the prosecutor, and represent your child in any hearings before the judge or any jury trials that may result from their case.
Contact Smith & Vinson Law Firm
Smith & Vinson Law Firm represents minors arrested or charged with juvenile offenses anywhere in the greater Austin area, including the counties of Travis, Williamson, Hays, Comal, and Bell.
If your child has been arrested or charged with a crime in Austin or the surrounding areas, contact our office immediately at (512) 368-9044. Your child’s future is important. Let us fight for you and get them the justice they deserve.
Feature photo courtesy of shawnpeters.typepad.com.