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Juvenile Lawyer in New Braunfels, Texas, Representing Minors Facing Criminal Charges

If a minor is charged with a criminal offense in Texas, they may often believe that a juvenile offense is not a serious problem and that the record of the offense eventually goes away. However, even a minor conviction in a juvenile court is not to be taken lightly, as it can impact the future of a child for years to come. Learn how the state of Texas courts handle juvenile crimes and why it is imperative to seek the help of a skilled juvenile lawyer to protect the rights of a child accused of a criminal offense.

Who Is Considered a Juvenile in Texas?

In Texas, an individual is considered a juvenile and can be charged with an offense in juvenile court if they are at least ten years old. When a minor turns 17 years old, they are considered an adult and will be prosecuted in an adult court if they commit a criminal offense. Anyone who is 17 or older and commits an offense is no longer considered a juvenile, and their case will likely be handled by an adult criminal court.

The main difference between the juvenile court system and the adult court system is that it focuses on rehabilitation. If a juvenile is convicted of a crime, they may still receive a variety of penalties, but the goal of such penalties is to teach the child a lesson and prevent the child from engaging in similar behavior in the future. In addition, juveniles have the same rights in court as adults, including the right to have an attorney and the right to defend oneself against self-incrimination. In juvenile courts, a jury may decide whether the child committed the crime or not. Rather than finding the minor “guilty” or “not guilty,” the jury decides if the charges against the child are “true” or “not true.”

What Is the Difference Between CINS and Delinquent Conduct?

CINS stands for Conduct Indicating a Need for Supervision. It is considered the least serious type of juvenile offense, corresponding to the type of offense that would not cause an adult to go to jail and may simply result in a fine, with the exception of traffic offenses. Problematic behaviors that may be considered CINS may include truancy (missing school), running away from home, sexting, inhaling or “huffing” chemical substances such as glue or paint, and being expelled from school. A juvenile charged with CINS may be sentenced to probation or required to attend a behavioral or substance abuse rehabilitation program but cannot be detained at a juvenile facility.

On the other hand, if a juvenile has engaged in more than just problematic behaviors and has violated federal or state law, they may be charged with delinquent conduct. If the same crime was committed by an adult, it could result in a Class B misdemeanor or even a felony with possible jail time. Delinquent conduct includes more serious offenses such as DWIs, sexual offenses, intoxicated assault, and intoxicated manslaughter. Sentences for delinquent conduct may include probation and the requirement of going through a diversion program. For more serious offenses, the juvenile may be sentenced to detention at the Texas Juvenile Justice Department (TJJD).

What Are Some Common Juvenile Offenses in Texas?

There are a variety of behaviors and criminal offenses that may lead a minor to face charges in a juvenile court, such as truancy, drug or marijuana-related crimes, traffic offenses, violent crimes, theft and property crimes, and juvenile sex crimes. If your child is being charged with a juvenile offense, reach out to a juvenile criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

As explained above, truancy is when a minor has ten or more unexcused absences from school. This can lead to juvenile charges and criminal charges for the parents. Drug crimes can range from simply possessing a small amount of drugs or marijuana to being charged with drug trafficking after being found in possession of large amounts of illicit substances. If a juvenile commits theft and steals low-value items, they may be able to avoid more serious penalties, but repeat offenders or those who steal high-value items may be subject to detention. Minors who engage in unlawful behavior, such as sex crimes or intoxicated manslaughter, may also be facing serious penalties and could be transferred to the adult penal system once their juvenile sentence portion is completed.

Why Is It Crucial to Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney for a Juvenile Case?

It is not uncommon for juveniles to be sentenced to excessively harsh penalties after committing a juvenile criminal offense. By working with an attorney as soon as you know your child may be arrested, you will increase the chances of your child avoiding harsh penalties. In some cases, an attorney may be able to present evidence that weakens the state’s case against your child, which may result in the charges being dropped altogether.

Each case is unique, but it is important to treat a juvenile case seriously as it will stay on your child’s record and potentially limit their future chances to secure scholarships, employment, and other crucial opportunities for their career. Seymour & Vaughn has represented countless juvenile clients charged with criminal offenses in New Braunfels, Texas, and surrounding areas. Our legal team is dedicated to protecting the constitutional rights of each and every client and fighting for a positive outcome, no matter how serious their charges may be. Contact to our law firm by calling 830-282-8751 and requesting a free consultation to discuss your case and see how we can help you.