Teenage defendants and indeterminate sentencing

On Behalf of | Mar 31, 2022 | Criminal Defense

Teens do not always have the best judgment and they often push the boundaries of what is considered acceptable behavior. This means some come in conflict with the law, sometimes in serious ways. The most serious juvenile offenders may be sent to a Texas Juvenile Justice Department (TJJD) secure facility. The following is an overview of how a teen progresses through the facility.

Indeterminate sentences

A teen, after a hearing at Juvenile Court, may be sent to a TJJD facility on an indeterminate sentence. This means their sentence does not list a specific time-period that the youth must stay in a TJJD facility. If your teen receives an indeterminate sentence, the length of their stay will be based on the severity of the offense they committed and the risk they pose to the public. Generally, they will be issued a minimum length of stay (MLOS) of nine to 24 months. However, a MLOS is not a guaranteed release date. Teens will be released once they have successfully completed both their MLOS, upon good behavior and upon completion of any other treatment programs they are required to finish. Teens can remain in a TJJD facility until the reach age 19.

Placement

Much of the time, a teen found to have committed a serious offence will be sent to a TJJD secure facility. Sometimes a teen is sent to a medium security facility or halfway house. A teen’s placement will be based on their treatment goals and proximity to home. Regardless of placement, the teen will receive counseling, will participate in group sessions and will receive an education. They may even earn work-release privileges and vocational training. If placed in a halfway house or low security facility, efforts will be made to help the teen transition back to their home.

Release

Once a teen serves their minimum sentence, if they have not already been released on parole, they will go before a release review panel. The panel will either permit release or extend the teen’s time at a TJJD facility based on the teen’s behavior, grades and response to treatment. After release, many teens will be on parole for a time period. Teens can live at home during this time, and report to their parole officer. After being discharged from the TJJD facility, the teen will work with an educational liaison to set up a plan for their future. Generally, this discharge will occur either upon completion of their program or once the teen reaches age 19.

Your teen has a future

As this shows, even if a teen serves time at TJJD facility, they still have a chance to be rehabilitated and have a solid base to move forward as an adult. Knowing what to expect can be the first step in ensuring a successful future.

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