With offices in Houston, Musick & Musick LLP assists parents whose children have been accused of criminal or delinquent conduct in Harris County and the surrounding Gulf Coast region of Texas.
Understanding Juvenile Offenses
Juvenile law is unique in that it combines elements of both civil and criminal law. Unlike adult criminal cases, the Texas juvenile court system treats juvenile offenders as people who need rehabilitation instead of criminal punishment. Therefore, juveniles are not “convicted” of a crime, but are found to have engaged in delinquent conduct. Also, when a child has been taken into custody (the juvenile equivalent of an arrest), he or she is not released on bail or bond. Juvenile offenders are either detained or released to their parents’ custody. In deciding whether to detain or release the child, the court considers several factors, including the seriousness of the offense and the age of the child. It is important to consult with an attorney experienced in juvenile matters so that your child has the best chance of being released into your custody after an arrest.
Changes in the Juvenile Court System
While juvenile law was initially aimed toward rehabilitating young offenders, it has changed into a system in which juvenile records and adjudications can follow your children into adulthood. Attending college, joining the military, and obtaining gainful employment are all more difficult with a juvenile record. As such, you need a lawyer who understands and specializes in juvenile law in Texas. Our firm helps children and their parents overcome this difficult time, and avoid these and other serious consequences.
Punishments for Juvenile Offenses
Texas has adopted the Progressive Sanctions Model, which assigns punishment levels depending on the severity of your child’s offense, as well as any past delinquent activity, the existence of special needs, and the success of any past interventions. Under the Progressive Sanctions Model, punishments vary widely depending on the level in which the criminal activity falls. Sanction Level One includes court-ordered counseling and asks you to closely monitor your child’s behavior, while Sanction Level Seven includes detention for a minimum of 12 months followed by parole for a minimum of 12 months, and either restitution to the victim of the conduct or community service appropriate to the harm caused.
As the modern trend in juvenile cases is toward harsher punishment, prosecutors often seek certification of juveniles as adults, which means that children age 14 to 15 can be moved to adult court. Certification and conviction as an adult takes the child out of the juvenile justice system and allows him or her to receive an adult prison sentence of up to 40 years. We work tirelessly to keep children out of the adult system, so that they may move forward without the stigma of a criminal record.
Seek Experienced, Knowledgeable Representation
Juvenile offenses should not be taken lightly, as they can have a lasting impact on a child’s life. If your child has been charged with a crime or delinquent conduct, it is critical that you seek experienced legal counsel as soon as possible to ensure your child’s rights are protected. We understand how to handle these delicate cases, guiding parents so that they can make informed choices about their child’s defense. Put your child’s future in capable legal hands; contact Musick & Musick LLP today for a free initial consultation. We offer 24-7 phone service.