Summer is a fun and freeing time for lots of teens, but it can also be a time to “get into trouble.” Sometimes criminal accusations are valid, and sometimes they are false. If your teen is facing criminal charges – whether you believe they were innocent or not – it’s essential to understand how juvenile delinquency law works in Texas, and what rights your teen has. Your teen’s future could depend on it!
What is Juvenile Delinquency?
In Texas, a person who is at least 10 years old and under the age of 17 can be charged as a juvenile. These offenses can range anywhere from a class C misdemeanor to capital murder. Once a person turns 17 in Texas, he/she is legally considered an adult, and any criminal charges will be handled in adult court, according to TDCAA.
Over 1.6 million juveniles were arrested in 2010. The most prevalent juvenile crimes were theft, assault, drug abuse, disorderly conduct, and curfew violations. Approximately 12,030 individuals under 18 were arrested for DWIs, another 12,700 were arrested for drunkenness, according to HG.org.
Your Teen’s Rights
It’s essential to understand (and let your teen know if possible) that your teen has the right to an attorney under any circumstances, as well as the right to remain silent until consulting with an attorney.
What to Expect
- If your child is arrested for a serious offense, such as a sex crime, a serious assault, serious drug charges, and some weapons possession charges, you can expect them to be taken into custody and have legal proceedings initiated against them.
- Being taken into custody means that your teen will be fingerprinted, photographed, and interviewed. If your teen was arrested while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they may also be medically screened, according to HG.org.
- Parents are usually notified upon arrest of the details of the charges, and impending course of action.
- In most situations, officers allow parents to speak with their child and sometimes stay during formal questioning. While a federal right for parents to be present does not exist, teens always have the right to have an attorney present.
- Questioning must stop if teens request an attorney.
- Time spent in custody depends on the severity of the offense. For serious charges, teens might go to a camp for 4 months or up to a year. For the rarest, most serious charges (such as murder or attempted murder) teens could be charged as an adult and face a sentence in state prisons, according to Kids In The House.
First Steps for Parents
- Remain calm. One mistake does not make your teen a criminal or lead to a life of crime. Teens are often victims of situations that they mistakenly put themselves in.
- Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney right away. Getting a criminal defense attorney involved immediately is the single best thing you can do to help your child, recommends HG.org.
- Don’t try to give legal counsel. Restrict your role to just listening. Resist the temptation to act as legal counsel to your child. Well-meaning parents can easily get their teen into greater legal complications by pushing them to “tell the truth.” Teenagers put in difficult and stressful situations might say anything to please their parents or to attempt to end the current unpleasant situation. If your teen says anything incriminating or false, it could seriously damage the outcome of their case. Saying the wrong thing could lead to a permanent criminal record.
- Ask about custody release. Depending on the charges in question, you can work with an attorney to try to persuade the judge to let your teen remain out of custody while charges are pending.
Juvenile crime is a complicated, and an understandably scary situation for teens and parents alike. If your teen is innocent, Juan Tijerina can help you prove it. Studies show that many criminal accusations are false – sometimes due to racism, discrimination, greed, or just honest mistakes.
If your teen is guilty, Juan Tijerina can work to reduce charges. Even when criminal allegations have some truth to them, it’s sometimes possible to prove that the defendant deserves a much less serious conviction that what they’re being charged with.
To whatever degree your teen is guilty or innocent, it’s critical to make sure they are fairly represented! Criminal convictions can impact your teen’s entire life. Taking action now could make all the difference in the world. Juan Tijerina has extensive experience with juvenile criminal defense in McAllen, Texas, and he’s here for your family!
Call (956) 261-5609 or contact us online today!
4016 N. 22nd Street
McAllen, Texas 78504
Phone: (956) 261-5609
Phone: (512) 900-1126