The most common offenses for which teens below the age of 17 face criminal charges are theft, simple assault, and drug possession.
The Texas Juvenile Justice Department deals with cases in which children and adolescents between the ages of 10 and 16 are charged with criminal offenses. While the juvenile justice system aims to be more rehabilitative and less punitive than the adult criminal justice system, it is still possible for the court to require probation-like supervision or a sentence of months or years in a juvenile detention facility.
If your child is facing criminal charges, you need a criminal defense lawyer who will stand up for their legal rights in the face of a system that does not go out of its way to treat defendants, even the youngest ones, with compassion. The criminal defense lawyers at the Law Office of Kyle Whitaker will provide the best possible representation for your child.
The Most Common Charges in Texas Juvenile Criminal Court
It is not a surprise that most criminal charges against kids and teens are for relatively minor offenses, just kids being daring, foolhardy, or rebellious. Shoplifting, fistfights, underage drinking, and experimenting with cannabis or other drugs are the offenses that account for the greatest number of arrests of juveniles in Texas.
These are some crimes frequently seen in juvenile court:
- Truancy (skipping school)
- Underage possession of alcohol or tobacco
- Using a fake ID to purchase alcohol or tobacco
- Drug possession
- Possession of drug paraphernalia
- Simple assault
- Traffic crimes such as reckless driving or driving without a valid license
If a 15-year-old or 16-year-old gets charged with a felony (such as drug trafficking or aggravated assault), the state has the option to charge them as an adult. If a child younger than 10 steals, intentionally injures another person, or consumes alcohol, tobacco, or drugs, they require behavioral health remedies, and their parents could be held legally responsible, but the child will not face criminal charges.
They are Kids, Not Criminals
The bad news is that Texas laws seem to prioritize appearing to be tough on crime over the well-being of young people. Texas is one of only three states where 17-year-olds are always tried as adults. (Georgia will begin charging 17-year-olds as juveniles in 2023, leaving only Texas and Wisconsin.)
Even for teens in juvenile court, the system tends to impose escalating penalties for repeat offenses, such that every criminal charge against you is an additional obstacle to staying on the right side of the law.
The good news is that, no matter how young you are, the law gives you rights as a defendant in a criminal case, such as the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty and the right not to answer questions about the alleged crime until consulting with your attorney.
Contact the Law Office of Kyle Whitaker About Juvenile Criminal Cases
If your child is facing charges in juvenile court for theft, drug possession, or any other offense, you need a criminal defense lawyer who has your child’s best interests in mind. Contact the Law Office of Kyle Whitaker in Fort Worth, Texas to discuss your case.