Juvenile Cases

Juvenile cases are usually easier to handle than adult cases. The exception would be for juveniles who are certified as adults, a rare procedure now that juvenile courts can hand out determinate sentences.  These are served in in a juvenile facility until the person becomes an adult, and later in an adult facility if there is more time to do.  Juvenile cases can take more time than adult cases, however, because of the way that the courts handle their case load.

There are some lawyers who do Family Law who handle juvenile cases, and some lawyers who do Criminal Law who handle juvenile cases.

When the child is going to plead “not true” the case is handled much like an adult case except that sentencing (called “disposition”) will be handled by the judge unless the child’s offense is subject to a determinate sentence and he requests a jury. There is no right to “go to the jury” on disposition of charges that are not subject to a determinate sentence.

Disposition is usually for one year on probation, that may be extended.  In more serious cases, or where the juvenile is a repeat offender, he may be placed outside the home in a private “group home” or even at the Texas Youth Commission, a state agency.  A determinate sentence can be as high as 40 years for a first degree felony.

Except when a crime is very serious or high profile, juvenile court judges tend to place a higher value on efforts at rehabilitation than is common in adult cases.  They tend to dispose of cases by incarceration only as a last resort when other efforts appear to have failed.


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