It’s no secret that adolescents may at times behave in impulsive and irrational ways. Many studies show that brains continue to develop well into early adulthood, meaning that adolescents simply don’t always have the biological maturity to consistently make reasonable and safe decisions. As a result, some adolescents may be susceptible to peer pressure, curious temptations, or reckless impulses that lead them to commit crimes.
Texas law classifies juveniles as any person older than the age of 10, but under the age of 17. Crimes committed by this age group are typically handled differently than crimes committed by adults, with a much greater emphasis being placed on rehabilitative solutions as opposed to punitive ones. Unlike adult criminal cases, most juvenile cases are handled in civil proceedings under the Texas Juvenile Justice Code. However, in the case of particularly egregious crimes such as serious felonies and violent crimes, some juveniles may go through a process called “certification”. In these cases, juveniles may be charged and tried as adults.
What are Common Juvenile Crimes?
Juvenile delinquency crimes are very common among adolescents. It’s not uncommon for individual or groups of adolescents to commit these crimes for ‘fun’, often ignorant of the seriousness of the offenses. These crimes include:
- Disorderly conduct (foul language, flashing, streaking)
- School behavioral offenses
- Traffic violations
- Criminal nuisance
- False reports (pulling fire alarms; false bomb threats)
Juvenile status offenses
Juvenile status offenses are mainly crimes that are illegal for minors to commit. Such crimes include:
- Underage alcohol or tobacco use
- Curfew violations
- Running away from home
Property crimes are some of the more serious common juvenile offenses. These offenses are treated differently when the offender is a minor. Nevertheless, they are still serious charges that should be handled diligently.
Violent Juvenile crimes
Violent juvenile crimes are taken far more seriously by the state. Punishments for these offenses can be extremely severe and damaging. In many of these cases, such as murder, rape, and robbery, it is very likely that offending juveniles will be prosecuted as adults. These crimes include:
- Harassment intended to provoke violence
- Reckless endangerment
- Possession of a weapon
- Aggravated Assault
Other common crimes
There are many other crimes that adolescents may be charged with. Juveniles may be charged for committing many of the same offenses that pertain to adults, although punishments can differ based on the offenders age, prior history, and the severity of the charge. Some of these crimes include:
- Drug possession
- Possession of drug paraphernalia
- Resisting an officer
What are possible consequences of a juvenile criminal conviction?
Although punishments for juvenile crimes are typically less severe than their adult counterparts, a criminal conviction can still range from costly and time consuming to life altering and debilitating. Juveniles convicted of crimes may receive probation, detention, house arrest treatment programs, deferred sentencing, jail time, expulsion, and even certification for some offenses, resulting in adult prison sentences. These sentences and court mandated punishments may interfere with an adolescent’s education, mental health, social well-being, and freedom.
Take these charges seriously.
Aside from the direct consequences of a criminal conviction, there are many collateral consequences of a juvenile conviction that can be just as damaging to an adolescent’s life and stability. Juvenile criminal charges can cause financial and social stress for an adolescent’s family and guardians, issues with continuing education and succeeding in further schooling, the loss of certain privileges such as the ability to receive or maintain a driver’s license, the ability to receive financial aid for college or university, and complications with finding and maintaining employment in one’s adult life.
In the case of juveniles that have previously been charged with a crime, the stakes may be higher for further offenses. Courts examine the prior records of juveniles when making important decisions such as releasing the child from custody, serving a harsher sentence, or even deciding to prosecute the child as an adult. Children that have been previously tries as adult will often be considered as an adult again in any future cases.
Additionally, many juvenile records are not always kept confidential. Particularly for juveniles convicted of serious felonies, records may be kept open to the general public. This can prove to be devastating for both the child and the family. However, there are ways to seal or remove a juvenile’s record. If your child has been convicted of a crime, please consult a criminal defense attorney to discuss this potential option.
If your child is being charged with a juvenile offense, do not wait to contact a criminal defense attorney today.
Although consequences for juvenile crimes may be less severe than adult crimes, a criminal conviction can interfere with you and your child’s financial, educational, and general well-being. An experienced criminal defense attorney will be able to strategically prepare a defense, explore alternative rehabilitative punishment options, and fight for your child in and out of court. The sooner you contact an attorney, the sooner you can move past this stressful period in your child’s life.
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