You may find it hard to imagine a situation when a child in Harlingen needs a defense lawyer. Unfortunately, young people make mistakes. Some of them can lead to unfortunate (and overly punitive) consequences.
Each year, more than 50,000 juveniles are arrested or referred to the juvenile probation system in Texas. Reacting quickly could prevent severe punishment and avoid future legal issues.
When children are facing criminal charges, parents tend to panic. To make sound decisions, consult a Harlingen juvenile defense attorney at Kenny Perez Law. These legal professionals focus on defending children and minimizing punishment when possible.
With a juvenile defense lawyer in your corner, you can protect your child from facing serious penalties.
Is my child too young to be charged with a crime?
Many parents believe that their children are too young to receive a punishment. In Texas, minors can face criminal charges if they commit an offense on or after their 10th birthday. If a person commits a crime on or after their 17th birthday, the case will go to the adult court.
Children younger than 10 cannot commit a crime intentionally. However, if such a child commits homicide, they may face charges.
In some cases, courts try children between 10 and 17 as adults.
This usually happens if:
- The crime is shocking or outrageous
- The child is a repeat offender
For example, a minor could go to an adult court if they commit violent rape or homicide.
Will my child’s criminal record be sealed?
Texas seals juvenile records as soon as the person turns 17. This means that landlords, employers, schools, and licensing agencies will not see a criminal record when running background checks.
However, sealing the record doesn’t mean deleting it. If your child decides to work for a federal criminal justice agency, that agency could access the record.
Records may not seal automatically if:
- A minor is tried as an adult.
- A minor is a convicted sex offender.
- A minor is a habitual felony offender.
That’s why it’s imperative to reduce the charges or avoid a conviction. This usually involves getting professional assistance from a juvenile defense attorney.
What is the punishment for juvenile crimes?
The punishment for juvenile crimes in Texas differs dramatically. A minor could be facing a license suspension in a DUI case or incarceration for murder.
The common consequences for juvenile crimes include:
- Supervision – the child receives regular counseling from the probation department or gets rehabilitation assistance from a social worker.
- Deferred prosecution – a minor receives six-month probation. If they violate the probation, the case proceeds to court.
- Probation – a child could receive probation until they turn 18. Probation may include counseling, rehabilitation, and community service. It involves reporting to a probation officer. If a minor violates probation, they are subject to a harsher penalty.
- Restitution – if the crime involves property damage or injuries, the minor may be required to cover physical and emotional damages.
- Incarceration – in some cases, children may be incarcerated by the Texas Juvenile Justice Department (TJJD). When the juvenile turns 21, the TJJD can transfer them to the Institutional Division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for the rest of the sentence.
The punishment depends on the severity of the crime, the expertise of the attorney, and the existing criminal record.
What are alternative forms of punishment?
Alternative forms of punishment for minors include:
- Verbal warning – a judge may give a youth a verbal warning (this usually happens if the crime is minor and doesn’t result in serious damage).
- Fine – a judge orders to pay a fine.
- Community service – the court assigns a certain number of mandatory community service hours.
- Electronic monitoring – a judge may order to wear an electronic bracelet to monitor the child’s location for a certain time.
In many cases, a juvenile defense lawyer can negotiate a more lenient punishment, especially if the minor is a first-time offender.
What can a juvenile defense attorney do?
Children make decisions differently than adults do. They are more prone to acting on impulse, misreading the situation, or failing to think before acting. In recent years, police arrested almost 700,000 youths. In one recent year, American teenagers committed over 2,400 murders.
Unfortunately, children and adolescents make mistakes that can reflect on their adulthood. If your child is arrested or charged with a crime, do everything possible to avoid a conviction or minimize the punishment.
A juvenile defense attorney can represent your child in a juvenile court and:
- Fight for case dismissal – in many cases, it’s possible to dismiss the case before charges are even made. By collecting proper evidence and investigating the situation, an attorney can convince the prosecutor to drop the charges. This usually happens if police officers make mistakes during the arrest.
- Negotiate a plea deal – an attorney who knows ins and outs of juvenile cases can find the basis for negotiating a plea deal. This can prevent your child from going to court, enduring a trial, and facing a serious penalty. A plea deal results in a lesser punishment for a lesser crime. This could mean a significant difference for your child’s future.
- Avoid pre-adjudication detention – an attorney can fight to release your child before the court hearing. Without proper legal representation, the judge may not agree to allow your child to go home before the scheduled proceedings.
Juvenile criminal cases take a serious toll on both children and parents. Many families experience severe anxiety and even suffer from PTSD.
A juvenile defense attorney can provide emotional support to the family during the entire case. This legal expert will answer all case-related questions, give you an objective evaluation of the situation, and prepare you for possible outcomes.
If your child faces a criminal charge, consider contacting a Harlingen juvenile defense lawyer at Kenny Perez Law as soon as possible at (956) 544-9292. The faster an attorney takes over your case, the more likely they are to achieve the best possible results.
Kenny Perez Law
513 E Jackson Ave # 304,
Harlingen, TX 78550
“Definitely a law firm that you can trust! Professional, reasonable, and knowledgeable. The legal team has great customer service skills. They were able to help and guide us every step of the way after our accident.” – Cynthia Barrera
Read more reviews on Google!