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When Are Juveniles Tried as Adults in Texas?

If your son or daughter is facing criminal charges and they are under the age of 18, you may be wondering if your child will be prosecuted as an adult. Generally, parents worry about this when: 1) their child is almost 18, 2) their child committed rape, 3) their child committed a violent crime, or 4) their child has a long history of criminal behavior.

In Texas, the adult criminal court rarely prosecutes and convicts juvenile offenders who commit crimes before the age of 17. Under the Family Code, however, the juvenile court does have the ability to waive its right to have exclusive jurisdiction over a juvenile case and transfer a child to the adult criminal court for prosecution. In the Texas criminal court system, this process is called a “transfer hearing” or “certification.”

Why Would a Juvenile Be Transferred?

Under Texas law, juveniles who are 14 or older when they commit certain offenses can be transferred to adult court for prosecution. Generally, the juvenile offenders who are at risk of a transfer are those who are accused of committing:

  • Capital felonies
  • First-degree felonies
  • Aggravated controlled substances felonies

For juvenile offenders age 15 and older, the juvenile court can transfer them to adult criminal court if there is probable cause to believe the juvenile offender committed a felony of the second or third degree or a state jail felony.

Adult Prosecution for Murder

Murder is taken very seriously in Texas, even if it was supposedly committed by a child or a teenager. If someone is 18 or older, and they are accused of committing a murder when they were between the ages of 10 and 17, they are prosecuted as an adult. Also, if someone who is 18 or older is accused of committing a felony between the ages of 14 and 17, their case may be tried in adult court.

If a juvenile is tried in adult court and they are convicted, the juvenile is subject to the same penalties that an adult would face if they committed the same crime, with the exclusion of the death penalty and mandatory life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Looking for a Plano criminal defense lawyer to defend your child in the juvenile or adult court system? Contact us today.

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