If your child has gotten into trouble with the law, you may not be sure what to expect. As a parent who is dealing with this kind of frustrating situation, it’s important that you’re able to get your questions answered.
The juvenile justice system in Texas is different than the adult system. First, it is designed to help guide youth toward productive lives. In the adult court system, the goal is working toward public safety and also penalizing those who have done wrong. For juveniles, the goal is to help them realize their mistakes and avoid committing them again in the future. This is a more protective process. Additionally, most juveniles can get their records sealed, so they may be able to move forward in life without a criminal record holding them back.
Are there times when juvenile records won’t be sealed?
Yes. In certain cases, a juvenile’s record may not be sealed. This could happen in cases of serious offenses, especially if those offenses are tried in the adult system.
How are juveniles sentenced in the juvenile justice system?
Sentencing is different for juveniles compared to adults. In 1987, determinate sentencing was approved. This is an alternative approach that takes the place of lowering the age that a juvenile could face adult charges. The law, as it was first written, stated that the first part of a juvenile’s sentence would be spent in a facility managed by the Texas Youth Commission.
In 2007, the law was changed, allowing TYC to supervise offenders until they turn 19. At that time, they may be transferred to an adult parole program’s supervision for the time left on their sentence.
Keep in mind that some offenses cannot go through the determinate sentencing process. These include serious offenses such as:
- Capital murder
- Attempted murder
- Felony deadly conduct
- First degree felony arson
- Felony injury to a child, elderly person or disabled party
- Aggravated kidnapping
- …and others.
If your child is in trouble with the law, a good understanding of the juvenile justice system is a must. Your attorney will help you learn more and explain what to expect.