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Juvenile Justice in Texas

If you are a parent whose son or daughter has gotten in trouble with the wrong side of the law, you probably have a lot of questions, and reasonably so. Here, we wanted to give you a quick explanation of the juvenile justice process in Texas. If you need legal help, don’t hesitate to contact our firm directly. Your child may be in a tough spot, and we’d be glad to offer you guidance.

Suppose your child got in trouble. Will they be under the juvenile court’s jurisdiction? It mostly depends on your child’s age. Your son or daughter would be considered a “child” and under the juvenile court’s jurisdiction if he or she is:

  • Between the ages of 10 and 16, or
  • 17-years-of-age, but under 18, who is accused of delinquent conduct.

(Source: §51.02(2), F.C.)

Essentially, the juvenile court loses jurisdiction or authority to handle a juvenile case once the juvenile has his or her 18th birthday. While children below the age of 10 cannot be prosecuted if they commit a crime, children as young as 7 may receive services from the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) if the children are likely to get into more trouble.

When a Child is Reported

A juvenile case begins when a child’s misconduct is reported to a local law enforcement agency. Such behavior can be reported by school personnel, concerned citizens, community officials, or even the child’s own parents. Once law enforcement gets involved, the police may do one of the following:

  • Provide a warning notice (for minor offenses).
  • Take the child into custody (this is not an arrest).

Note: If a child is taken into custody, he or she is not to be left unattended while at the juvenile processing office; the child has a right to be accompanied by a parent, a legal guardian, or by the child’s defense attorney under §52.025(c), F.C.

We are only scratching the surface in regards to the juvenile justice in Texas. If your son or daughter has been taken into custody in Plano or Dallas, we urge you to contact our firm to schedule a consultation with a member from our top-rated legal team!