Getting a phone call from the police department is every parent’s worst nightmare. Learning that your teenager has been arrested and charged with a violent crime is terrifying. You may be worried about their future and what a conviction could mean for their life. Will your child be charged as an adult? Will they spend years behind bars? These are all questions that plague concerned parents after their child’s arrest.

When it comes to juvenile crimes, it is important to understand the Texas juvenile criminal justice system. Every state is different and Texas laws are specific as to how children and teenagers are charged with offenses. Concerned parents must understand how the laws in Texas will affect their child’s future in order to protect them throughout the legal process.

Texas Laws on Violent Juvenile Crimes

In Texas, children under the age of 10 are not considered juveniles. They cannot be charged with a crime because the law considers them to lack the ability to have criminal intent. However, children and teens who are at least 10 and younger than 17 can be charged in juvenile court for a variety of crimes, including violent crimes. These teens are tried in the courts as juveniles and not adults.

If a teenager has reached his or her 17th birthday, they are considered an adult and will be charged in an adult court of law. Texas is one of only 7 states that tries 17-year-olds as adults. In 2015, over 22,000 17-year-olds faced prosecution in the Texas adult criminal justice system.

Penalties Your Teen May Face

The purpose of the juvenile law system is to provide teenagers and juveniles with treatment, training, and rehabilitation. It also allows dangerous teenagers to be removed from the public, to protect the public from harm as well. The juvenile courts recognize the responsibility of both the parent and the child for the child’s conduct and behavior.

This does not mean that your child will not receive punishment for their offenses. However, unlike adult court punishments, juvenile courts do not have maximum or minimum sentences. Teens may be subject to juvenile detention centers, anger management counseling, substance abuse protection, and community service.

The First Offender program is offered to help teens turn their lives around after being arrested. This program includes a sentence of community service, counseling, and restitution to the victim. In return, the juvenile does not need to be adjudicated before a judge or jury and can keep a blemish-free record. A juvenile may also receive deferred prosecution if they can keep out of trouble for at least six months.

An experienced Texas juvenile crimes lawyer can help you and your family proceed through this difficult time. Even if your child has committed a violent crime, there may be ways to protect them from suffering lifelong consequences.

What Can Parents Do After Their Teen is Arrested?

If you receive a call that your teenager has been arrested and charged with a crime, you may not know what to do next. After all, this is not something you ever planned for. You likely never thought about the steps you should take if your child gets arrested. When your child is arrested, you should do the following: Do not allow the police to talk to your child without your lawyer present; Ask to see your child immediately; Send a letter of protest if you are not allowed to see your child; Find out as much as possible about the charges and Do not ask your child to confess anything to you.

It is only natural as a parent to want to know the truth. You may want to ask your child what happened and get them to open up to you about the details and circumstances surrounding their arrest and the crime they have been charged with. Do not do this. The only person your child can safely talk to is an attorney. If your child tells you the details of their crime, the prosecution could call you as a witness to testify against your child.

Instead, insist that your child gets an attorney quickly. Remind your child not to talk to anyone, especially the police without their attorney present. The best way to protect your child is to get them legal help immediately. Your Texas juvenile criminal defense attorney will be able to protect your child during the legal process, no matter how serious the charges are.

Call Our Houston Juvenile Criminal Defense Lawyers Today

After your child’s arrest, you need an attorney on your side to help you through the legal process. At Roger G. Jain & Associates, P.C., our Houston juvenile criminal defense lawyers can guide you and your family safely, while protecting your child’s future. Call us today at 713-981-0600 or fill out our confidential contact form. We are here to offer you compassionate and aggressive legal guidance after a serious criminal charge.