When a juvenile is accused of committing a crime, it can alter their life forever. Young people and their parents should be familiar with the rights that accused juveniles have that can provide important protections for them.
Rights of accused juveniles
The criminal justice process is different for juveniles than for adults. Understanding the juvenile justice process and how it differs is crucial. Juveniles are considered minor children ages 10-17. When a minor is first taken into custody, the police officer must immediately begin processing them and contact the minor’s parents or guardians. Following that, a detention hearing must be held to determine if the minor will be detained or released. The 48-hour period includes weekends and holidays.
Under Texas law, there is a presumption that favors releasing the minor. This means the juvenile will be released unless the court determines: they are likely to abscond from the jurisdiction of the court; the parent, guardian or custodian of the minor is not providing adequate supervision; no parent or guardian is available to return them to court when needed; the minor poses a danger to the public or to themselves if released; the minor was previously found to be a delinquent child, or convicted of a penal offense and is likely to commit another offense.
If criminal charges are filed against the minor, the judge or jury will determine if the charges alleged against the minor are true at an adjudication hearing. If the charges against the juvenile are determined to be true, the court will hold a sentencing disposition.
For minors, Texas law favors alternative sentencing over detention.
If your child is facing criminal charges, it is essential to be familiar with how to respond and prepare a criminal defense response that is most appropriate and best for their situation.