Texas Juvenile Defense Attorney
Westfall Sellers Attorneys can Give your Child a Second Chance
While the ultimate goal of juvenile law in Texas is to rehabilitate your child and steer them away from future mistakes, a criminal conviction on your child’s juvenile record can jeopardize their future opportunities. With a skilled juvenile defense attorney by your side, however, your child is more likely to get the help they need while keeping their record clean.
If your child has been arrested, learn the basic facts about juvenile crimes in Texas below, then call Westfall Sellers Attorneys at 817-928-4222 or contact us online. The sooner we can step in and help protect your child, the more likely you and your child are to have success in court.
Who is considered a juvenile in Texas?
Children from the ages 10-16 are considered juveniles in Texas and can be charged in juvenile court. Once children turn 17, they are considered adults. There are currently efforts to raise the cut-off age for being tried as a juvenile to 18 so that it would be more consistent with the Texas “age of majority,” which is also 18 years-of-age.
It’s important to note that children younger than 17 years-of-age can still be tried as adults if the crime for which they are charged is particularly severe.
For what crimes can a juvenile be charged in Texas?
Juveniles can be charged with all of the same offenses as an adult, from Class C Misdemeanors to first degree felonies. If the juvenile is to be tried as a juvenile in a juvenile court, Texas separates juvenile crimes into two different categories:
Conduct Indicating a Need for Supervision (CINS)
CINS are behaviors that are either not illegal for adults or are illegal for adults but would result in only a fine (but no jail time) if the adult was convicted. These behaviors include:
- Drinking (non-traffic offenses only)
- DUI (any amount of alcohol)
- Expulsion from school
- Glue and paint inhalation/huffing
- Running away from home
- Truancy and/or Failure to Attend School (FTAS)
- Electronic transmission (texting, email, etc.) of sexual visual media/material of a minor, i.e., sexting
- Using tobacco products
- Violation of a Child-at-Risk order
Delinquent conduct includes offenses that are illegal for adults and could result in jail time for adults if they were convicted. These offenses include:
- Intoxication assault
- Intoxication manslaughter
- Sex offenses
- Felony offenses
- Violation of some court orders
How will a criminal charge affect my child?
The extent to which a criminal charge will affect a child depends on the severity of the offense that the child committed, the child’s criminal history, and the quality of the child’s defense.
Typically, children who commit CINS behaviors may serve probation and children adjudicated of delinquent conduct may face detention in the Texas Juvenile Justice Department (TJJD). Most of these punishments end after 1–2 years.
Children who are found guilty of committing more serious crimes and/or multiple felonies, however, run the risk of receiving what’s called “determinate sentencing.” Determinate sentencing opens up the potential for longer-lasting sentencing: up to 10 years for third-degree felonies, up to 20 years for second-degree felonies, and up to 40 years for first-degree felonies.
And again, in extreme cases, the juvenile court can transfer your child’s case to a criminal court, where they would be tried as an adult and, if found guilty, receive adult punishments.
Additional consequences of being found guilty as a juvenile may include: being added to the sex offender registration, an interruption in your child’s education, regular monitoring by law enforcement (electric monitoring, probation check-ins, curfews, etc.), and issues traveling.
Please not that this is general information only. The Texas juvenile justice system is very complicated. Fortunately, this quality presents great opportunities for creative resolutions.
How can a Texas juvenile defense attorney protect my child from the criminal justice system?
A skilled Texas juvenile defense attorney can either help construct a solid defense for your child and/or advocate for alternative punishments other than sentencing. The typical alternative programs that your juvenile criminal lawyer may pursue include diversion programs, treatment for drug or alcohol addiction, deferred prosecution, and probation. A juvenile criminal lawyer can also help you and your child look into options for expunging or sealing your record immediately.
The time to hire a juvenile defense attorney is now.
The Westfall Sellers Attorneys are here to protect your child from spending too much time mixed up in the criminal justice system. Westfall Sellers Attorneys know what is at stake for you and your family, and the lasting impact this case could have on your child’s future.
It’s not too late to help your child course-correct and get them back on track. If you’re a legal parent or guardian and your child has been arrested, contact the proven juvenile defense lawyers at Westfall Sellers Attorneys today. You only get one shot at this.
Call us at 817-928-4222 or reach out to us online.