What happens when a phone call from school brings news that your child has been arrested? Or when an officer knocks at your door looking for answers? Children make mistakes, and when those mistakes involve the law, it can be a difficult time for the entire family. If your child has been arrested, there are state specific procedures that govern juvenile cases.
In Texas, if your child is between the age of 10 and 16, they are considered a minor and treated for crimes at a juvenile level. 17 years or older is the cutoff for being tried as an adult. However, there are circumstances where a child would skip the juvenile system. Take a few moments to familiarize yourself with how juvenile crimes are prosecuted in Houston.
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It can be heartbreaking to know that your child has committed an offense punishable by law. This is often an opportunity to help redirect the child and put them on a more successful path. Here is a list of common behaviors that, in Texas, can result in a juvenile court appearance:
- Drug use or possession
- Underage drinking
- Theft or shoplifting
- Gang-related activity
After hearing of your child’s criminal activity, we highly recommend contacting Houston juvenile crimes attorney Lisa Shapiro Strauss. Our team can get ahead of the game and help improve the final outcome. Even with cut and dry cases, we have the resources to help avoid harsh consequences that can stay on your child’s record.
If your child has been accused of a juvenile crime, the state of Texas has a criminal system set-up specifically for 10 to 16 year olds. Typically the first steps take place in court. A case is filed against the juvenile with a petition. This is paperwork submitted by a prosecutor alleging the violation committed.
Cases of juvenile crimes are usually civil proceedings. The next step takes the case of probation official who will determine the consequence. This is where our team shines in defending your child.
Answers to Your Questions About Criminal Defense
Being arrested for a crime you didn’t commit can be incredibly frustrating, and it will be tempting to try to explain why you are innocent to law enforcement officials and prosecutors. But it is very important that you keep your mouth shut. Those parties are not trying help you, they are building a case against you. Even discussing your case with friends, family, and co-workers can be counterproductive. Definitely don’t post about it on social media either.
If possible, gather evidence about your case. Take pictures of the scene and ask for contact info from witnesses.
Hire an experienced attorney as soon as possible! Being innocent is not always enough to keep your from being charged and convicted. You attorney will be able to help you with a course of action in your case.
Here are a few tips to help you choose the right lawyer for you:
• Don’t choose the lowest priced attorney. Lawyers who are less expensive usually work in higher volume. This means that not only will they have less time to research and investigate your case, but you may also end up speaking primarily with the lawyer’s assistant.
• Look at their experience. Where were they trained? Does the attorney have experience with cases like yours? Having a background as a prosecutor can be helpful as well.
• Have they tried many cases in front of juries? Prosecutors know which defense attorneys are willing to try cases in front of a jury if negotiations don’t go the way they want. If a defense attorney is known as never going to trial, a prosecutor may have no incentive to drop your case.
In your first meeting with a criminal defense attorney, your lawyer will need to get to know you and your case. That means they will need to ask you a LOT of questions. You may also need to fill out a questionnaire. Some of this may seem redundant, but it’s all a necessary part of making sure you get the defense you deserve.
You’ll also need to bring documents with you. Documents related to your arrest, bail paperwork, court dates, and contact info for witnesses are all very important. Evidence like photos, phone messages, and documents that you think may help your case can be very helpful as well.
You should also come to the first meeting armed with your own question for your lawyer. Questions that can be helpful for you are:
• What type of criminal cases have you handled?
• What is your success rate?
• How long might each step of my case take?
• What is the best case scenario in my circumstances? What is the worst case scenario?
• What are your fees and payment options?
Tried as an Adult?
There are offenses where your juvenile aged child can be tried as an adult. Cases of extremely violent crimes like felony assault, assault with a deadly weapon, and murder all qualify. In these extreme cases, a juvenile court will hear the charges and opt for incarceration in a juvenile facility, or hand the case to the adult courts.
For felony charges, children 14 or older can be asked to stand trial in adult criminal courts. These are for the most serious felony charges. As a Houston felony crimes attorney, Lisa Shapiro Strauss would be able to assist in these matters as well.
The Texas juvenile system is organized to support and offer a helping hand to troubled children. Counselors, probation officers, and our team of attorneys – all parts of the system can work to help your child with the right advocate. Contact us today to see how we can help.