No one expects their child to commit a crime. When they do it is a frightening experience for both the parents and the child. When a minor is charged with a crime, the Harris County Juvenile Justice Center will handle the case. The main focus of the juvenile system is rehabilitation, so a minor will likely be sentenced to probation, however, the chances of spending time in a detention center are not out of the picture. If your child is caught with a fake I.D., possession of drugs, or caught in the act of criminal mischief, we can help.
The Texas Family Code requires a juvenile to be represented by a lawyer in the juvenile justice proceedings. Take the first step in building your child’s defense and contact The Gonzalez Law Group. Our firm has over 70 years of collective experience and we will use it to defend you.
The Gonzalez Law Group understands how frightening this situation is, that is why we want to help. We vow to treat your case with zeal and exhaust all of our recourses to achieve the best possible outcome for your child. Schedule a free case consultation today.
The Gonzalez Law Group defends juveniles across Harris County in communities that include Houston, Pearland, Pasadena, Deer Park, Webster, and many more.
- Possession of Alcohol by a Minor
- Criminal Mischief
- Juvenile Justice Process
- Punishments for Juvenile Offenses
- Additional Resources
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, individuals between the ages of 12 and 20 account for 11% of all the alcohol consumed in the United States. The drug is so widely used that it’s easy to forget laws govern who can use the substance.
A common crime committed by juveniles is the possession of alcohol by a minor. Section 106.05 of the Texas Penal Code makes it illegal for anyone under 21 to have alcohol in their possession. There are situations, though, where someone under 21 can lawfully be in possession of the substance. These situations include the following:
- For employment purposes
- In the presence of a parent, guardian, or spouse
- For the purpose of certain coursework
If you are over 18 and are charged with the crime, your case will be heard in adult court, but if you are younger than 17, your case will likely be heard in juvenile court.
It’s normal for children to get into trouble, but when they cause damage to another’s property, it becomes a crime. Causing damage to another’s property is considered criminal mischief, but the penal code considers other acts to be criminal mischief as well.
According to section 28.03 of the Texas Penal Code, criminal mischief can be committed in the following ways:
- Damaging or destroying another’s property
- Tampering with property that causes monetary loss or an inconvenience to the owner or third party
- Making marking, inscriptions, slogans, drawings, or painting on another’s property.
Since the crime involves damaging property, the juvenile court will likely require the minor to compensate the owner for the damages they caused.
When your child has been accused of a crime, it wise to understand how to juvenile justice system works in Texas. Understanding the process makes you a better-informed citizen and allows you to understand what your child may go through.
Juveniles who are arrested will face a different process than an adult. Often, juveniles who are detained by police are released to their parents unless the charges involve a serious or violent crime.
When a juvenile is released, they may have their case referred to a first offender program. These programs differ, but they may include completion of community service, education programs, rehabilitation and restitution to alleged victims. When the child completed the program, their charges may be dropped.
When a child is not referred to as a first offender program, they will have to enter the juvenile court process. Listed below is a brief outline of how the juvenile justice system works in Texas.
- Detention hearing: If a juvenile is not released to their parents after being detained, a judge or magistrate will determine if they should be released or held in detention.
- Transfer hearing: Depending on the charges, prosecutors may ask the juvenile court to transfer the case to adult court. Having a juvenile case transferred to adult court depends on the crime committed and the minor’s age.
- Adjudication hearing: This hearing is similar to a trial in the criminal court process. If a juvenile does not plead guilty, they will be tried for the charges against them.
- Disposition hearing: This is similar to a sentencing hearing. When a juvenile pleads guilty or the court finds them guilty, a punishment will be determined in a disposition hearing.
- Appeal: Just like adults, juveniles have the right to appeal the court’s decision
Having a lawyer present during the process is imperative to a successful case. They can guide you and your child through the complicated process and ensure the best possible outcome is achieved.
Similar to criminal court, how a juvenile is punished for a crime depends on the crime they committed, and their criminal history. If a juvenile is found guilty of a crime, they could be sentenced to the following:
- Probation: A juvenile will live at home while on probation, but they will be required to follow strict guidelines. Some of these guidelines can include reporting to a probation officer, attend counseling, pay restitution, attend school, and abide by curfews.
- Detention: A juvenile can be sentenced up to nine months in the Harris County Juvenile Detention Center.
- Texas Juvenile Justice Department Detention (TJJD): Minors found guilty of numerous serious offenses may be sent to TJJD. The court can set an indeterminate or determinate sentence. An indeterminate sentence can range from nine months to two years while a determinate sentence can last for decades and result in a transfer to an adult facility or parole.
- Drug Court: For a case to be moved to drug court it needs to involve a drug or alcohol offense. Punishment can include drug and alcohol education and treatment instead of probation or detention.
Alcohol Crimes by Minors| Texas Penal Code– Follow this link to view a complete list of alcohol offense relating to minors. You can read the precise legal text of minor in possession of alcohol, attempt to purchase alcohol by a minor, and consumption of alcohol by a minor. The code can be read on the Texas Constitution and Statutes website.
Juvenile Justice Handbook– View a handbook published by the Texas Attorney General that governs the juvenile justice system in Texas. You can gain access to an in-depth explanation or the juvenile justice process, the rights and responsibilities of a parent, and offense that are tried by the juvenile court.
Houston, TX Juvenile Defense Lawyer
By viewing this page, you are already considering the importance of a defense attorney for your child’s case. Take the next step and contact The Gonzalez Law Group. Every case that comes through our door is treated with diligence, and your child’s no exception.
The Gonzalez Law Group defends juveniles in all communities in Harris County such as Alvin, Manvel, League City, and La Porte. Call (832) 530-4070 to schedule a free case consultation.