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When children get in legal trouble in the Houston area, it can be devastating and shocking for parents. The Houston Family Foundation is focused on providing the tools necessary to build strong families that instill strong values in their children. Many parents today raise children with good virtues and solid characters, but children make mistakes – that’s just the reality of life. When these mistakes venture into legal territory, navigating the juvenile legal system can be tricky. Many unanswered questions often suddenly come to mind:

  • Will my child need to serve time in a juvenile detention center?
  • If so, how long will they serve?
  • What can I do as a parent to minimize my child’s legal ramifications?
  • How does the juvenile legal system even work?
  • Will my child be able to attend college after a juvenile offense?
  • Will my child be able to find a job after being charged for a juvenile crime?
  • Is it possible to clear my child’s criminal record (expungement)?

There’s no reason to expect you to know the answers to these questions. Many lawyers in the Houston area and beyond dedicate their entire careers to the juvenile legal system in Texas. A juvenile defense attorney can easily answer all of these questions and any others that may arise – The Houston Family Foundation recommends hiring a competent lawyer as soon as possible when legal trouble arises with your children. Every case is unique.

According to Brian S. Laviage, a juvenile defense lawyer in Houston, “the state will allow your child to go home with you” for minor offenses. Otherwise it’s up to a successful detention hearing to get your child released back into your custody, so yes, there is a strong possibility that your child may serve time in a juvenile detention center for more serious offenses. And yes, if the offense is serious and/or not handled professionally, there is a strong possibility that your child may have issues getting jobs and/or getting into college. But again, every case is unique.

When children make mistakes that venture into legal territory, it’s important that families remain strong and do the right thing for their children – hire a lawyer that specializes in juvenile offenses. Legal issues are not to be chanced and need a qualified professional to guide families through the system together. When your child faces potentially life-altering ramifications, stay strong and make sure you get the professional help necessary.

Children and parents alike often think juvenile charges will just go away without representation, but most of the time a child acts like it’s not a big deal. In fact, it is just the opposite! Many penalties can affect or destroy a child’s pending future.

The juvenile legal system in Texas is much different than the criminal legal system. While juveniles below 17 years of age may commit the same types of offenses as an adult, they are handled completely differently. The juvenile system is centered around rehabilitation, not punishment.

The Most Frequent Juvenile Offenses and Sentences under Texas Law

  • Juvenile Possession of Marijuana: the punishment weighs on many factors like the amount of marijuana that was found in the child’s possession, or where the bust was, or were there any aggravating factors involved. The punishment could be different depending on the circumstance. A few things a child could face is probation, driver’s license suspension, or even imprisonment. Additionally, if the child is found guilty, there may be other consequences that will affect the future like being able to get a job or attend college.
  • Juvenile DWI: If convicted, expect to have a suspended driver’s license. Other general punishments can include community service and probation.
  • Juvenile Drug Charges: once more, the result of juvenile drug charges is determined by several factors. A Juvenile attorney can go over all potential possibilities by looking at the history of the child.
  • Juvenile Violation of Probation: If probation is violated, the child will revisit the court for additional adjudication. Depending on the circumstances, the probation could be withdrawn, and he or she could face jail time.

In some cases, a child may qualify as a competent adult under Houston, Texas law. Meaning, the child will withstand trial as an adult and receive the same sentence, except death. How is this possible? Surprisingly enough if the charges are of a serious nature or the child is a chronic offender it can happen. Granted in most cases children under the age of 15 are not considered to be tried as an adult offense.

However, any child that is 14 or more may face adult charges for first degree felonies, capital offenses, and aggravated controlled substance felonies. All things considered, when a minor is forced to face criminal charges, it’s better to be tried as a child instead of an adult. After all, the punishments are inclined not to be as severe as adults. A competent juvenile defense attorney will work every angle they can to ensure that a child stands trial within the juvenile justice system.

It is important to realize the government has more legal standing to interfere in a child’s life as well as the child’s family even though the conviction is still pending. When children get into legal trouble, it’s best to have an attorney present when speaking to any law enforcement agencies. If not, a child may say or do something incriminating that makes the case stronger against them.

To summarize, the Houston Family Foundation recommends hiring an attorney that specializes in juvenile offenses in Texas when your child gets into legal trouble. If you have further questions or need a recommendation from other members, please contact us.