If a juvenile in Texas commits a serious criminal offense, they could go to prison for up to 30 years. However, determinate sentencing might give them the chance to leave prison before their 18th birthday.
What is determinate sentencing?
Juvenile drug cases can lead to harsh sentences like several years in prison. During the initial sentencing, a judge might give them up to 30 years. However, each individual gets a hearing before their 18th birthday. The outcome of the hearing could drastically alter the course of their life.
During the hearing, officials might review the individual’s sentence and how they’ve behaved during their time in prison. They might also consider the probability of another offense. If they think that the individual can return to society, they might release them on parole. The individual will have a parole officer until they reach the age of 21.
Alternatively, officials might decide that the inmate should serve out the rest of their sentence. When the individual reaches adulthood, the state might transfer them to an adult facility. The Texas Youth Commission might also decide to release the inmate from their jurisdiction altogether.
Are juvenile offenders tried like adults?
Typically, juvenile offenders get lighter sentences than adults. Instead of punishing offenders, most judges want to see juveniles turn their lives around. Judges might still give them prison sentences, but the court could also sentence offenders to community service and encourage them to educate themselves and enter the workforce.
However, this isn’t the case for every offender. If a juvenile commits a serious crime, the judge might try them as an adult and sentence them to time in an adult prison. Whatever the case, it’s important for juvenile offenders to hire an attorney so that their past record doesn’t follow them into adulthood.