IS YOUR CHILD FACING A CRIMINAL CHARGE IN FORT WORTH, ARLINGTON OR A SURROUNDING CITY?
If so, you need an experienced Fort Worth Criminal Lawyer who can effectively defend your child from juvenile charges. If your child has been charged with a crime in the Fort Worth area, it is likely that they are facing misdemeanor or felony charges that, if convicted, could result in life changing circumstances. Your child’s future may depend on the advice of counsel. It is critical that you hire an experienced and aggressive criminal defense attorney in Fort Worth who specializes in juvenile criminal defense.
If your child is under 17 years of age, he or she will be charged as a juvenile. If your child is seventeen or older, he or she will be charged as an adult. However, if the State of Texas attempts to certify your child as an adult, it is possible that your minor child may be tried as an adult.
The most common types of juvenile crimes that the Fulgham Law Firm P.C. handles are:
- DUI and other alcohol crimes
- Theft crimes
- Assault crimes
- Drug crimes
Does The Juvenile Court Require A Bond To Be Posted?
No! Unlike the adult criminal justice system, the juvenile courts in Texas do not process bonds. Rather than being required to process a bond, every juvenile arrested in Texas must be given a detention hearing. Upon being arrested, a juvenile has a right under Texas law to a detention hearing to determine if release from custody is appropriate. Texas law requires that the detention hearing must take place within 48 hours.
In fact, the Juvenile courts and probation department are required to contact the legal guardians of the child “without unnecessary delay” to ensure their presence at the hearing. The 48-hour rule for a detention hearing is a strict requirement under the law and the juvenile court must hold the hearing even if the juvenile’s parents are not available for attendance.
Under Texas law, a child must be released from custody at the Tarrant County Juvenile Center UNLESS the court determines the following:
- The juvenile’s family and case history presents an elevated risk that the juvenile will flee and not attend court hearings.
- The juvenile’s family situation is such that adequate supervision is not being provided and the juvenile’s care or protection is at risk.
- The juvenile’s parent or guardian is unable to arrange transportation or care to return the child for required court appearances.
- The juvenile poses a danger to himself or the safety of the public if released (very subjective in nature and easy for a judge to abuse); or
- The child has been found to be “delinquent” in the past or received a conviction for a crime punishable by a term in prison and is likely to commit an offense if released.
What Happens At A Juvenile Detention Hearing?
The primary reason Texas law requires a detention hearing on all juvenile cases is to determine the facts of the allegations and determine if the family environment and arrangements will provide for adequate supervision for the child to be released and transported back and forth to court.
If you hire an aggressive and experienced Fort Worth juvenile lawyer and your child is able to be released at the first detention hearing, your criminal lawyer can then prepare for the next court date by gathering police reports and digital media evidence and sitting down with you and your child to prepare your criminal defense. However, if your child is not released at the first detention hearing and the judge denied your attorney’s request for release, it is important to request another detention hearing every 10 days or sooner to challenge the ruling that the juvenile should continue to be remain detained. It is critical that your juvenile attorney stay on the court about the hearing dates in order to ensure your criminal case does not fall between the cracks.
For example, Tarrant County juvenile judges have a presumption that any juvenile case involving guns or other possible deadly weapons should require the child to remain in custody longer than the 48 hours provided before the initial detention hearing. This is their policy regardless of prior criminal history or whether the weapon was actually used against someone. This blanket policy certainly does not seem fair or just considering each case can be unique and may not be in the best interest of the child to keep a child in custody where a weapon was merely present at the scene with the child. However, Tarrant County juvenile judges justify this policy based upon the belief that it prevents further gun cases or violent behavior in their jurisdiction.
Instead of focusing on punishment exclusively, under Texas juvenile law, the Juvenile Justice Code works in tandem with the Texas Family Code to create a presumption that all juveniles charged with a crime should be rehabilitated. This makes sense. It is in the interest of the community to attempt to rehabilitate every juvenile in the criminal justice system.
Under Texas law, the juvenile court is required to answer the question, “What is in the best interest of the child?” In the adult criminal justice system, there is more of a focus on punishment and deterrence. Rehabilitation is one of the lower priorities if you are charged as an adult in Texas. However, under the juvenile court system, there is a strong presumption that a juvenile must be rehabilitated. Deterrence acts as a counterweight to rehabilitation for some juvenile judges but your criminal attorney should always remind the juvenile court of their moral and legal obligation to rehabilitate a child and not act as an arm of punishment under the law.
Of course, a juvenile murder case will create a separate set of risks and results than a first-time juvenile shoplifting case. For non-violent criminal offenses, it is reasonable to conclude that it is in the best interest of the child to have their case resolved in a fashion that will permit supervision but provide the opportunity to have the juvenile case sealed from the criminal record.
What Happens At Juvenile Court?
Once your child has been released from the Tarrant County detention center, the court will normally require your child to report to a juvenile probation officer for conditions of bond and an interview screening to determine the school and home environment. Because the standard under the Family Code is the “best interest of the child,” the court has wide discretion to interview the family and determine family history and background to ensure the juvenile is in a safe environment. Every juvenile must attend court with a parent or legal guardian.
The conditions placed upon the juvenile during the negotiations of the criminal case are similar to bond conditions many adult offenders receive. A juvenile can be required to provide drug tests and proof of school attendance, etc. These conditions upon the juvenile also apply to the parents or legal guardians of the juvenile because the ultimate responsibility for the juvenile attending court and complying with the terms and conditions of the juvenile court fall upon the parents or legal guardians.
In order to make it into a juvenile court, the Tarrant County juvenile prosecutor must file a petition of delinquent conduct within 30 days of detention for more serious felony charges. Less time is permitted for the filing of a petition on misdemeanor and non-violent felony cases. In fact, the prosecutor must file a petition within 15 days after the detention hearing date for lesser charges. If a child remains in custody and a petition has not been filed by the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office, your juvenile attorney can demand the immediate release of your child from custody.
How Can A Juvenile Case Be Dismissed?
It is critical that you hire the best juvenile attorney to defend your child if they have been charged with a crime in Fort Worth or a surrounding city in Tarrant County, Texas. The best juvenile lawyers know that it is important to gain access to the evidence from the Tarrant County prosecutor and immediately perform a legal analysis to determine the strengths and weaknesses of the case and develop a legal strategy for defense.
Can the prosecutor prove the elements of the crime? Your child has a right to a jury trial where the State of Texas will always have the burden to prove the case. For example, if your child has been charged with drug possession, can the State of Texas prove that your child exercised care, custody, or control over the drugs? What if there were other juveniles or adults present at the time of the search? What if the drugs were not found on your child’s person but, instead, in the center console of a car your child was riding in? Does that mean the prosecutor can prove criminal intent or possession? Not necessarily!
What if your child was arrested for an assault at school? What if both kids were fighting with each other and it is unclear who started the fight? The prosecutor will have the burden to prove that your child intentionally or knowingly contacted the other child with and that this contact caused physical pain AND that your child’s actions were NOT self-defense. The best way to get a juvenile case dismissed is to establish a legal defense showing that the State of Texas can not meet its burden of proving the criminal charge.
Consequences Of A Plea Agreement As A Juvenile
If both parties can negotiate a resolution to the criminal charges, your child will be required to “plea” or stipulate to the evidence being true and enter a formal plea of “true” to resolve the case. Upon entering a plea of true, a sentencing hearing will be scheduled to determine the appropriate sentence.
It is at this hearing that your juvenile lawyer should present witnesses that mitigate the criminal charges and help provide a softer context of the family background and necessity for the juvenile to be rehabilitated. Remember, the purpose of the juvenile justice system is “to remove, when appropriate, the taint of criminality from children committing certain unlawful acts.” In other words, a judge should start sentencing from a place that presumes the child should have the opportunity to clear their criminal record in the future.
Skilled & Experienced Juvenile Criminal Defense Attorney
If your child has been arrested and charged with a juvenile crime in Fort Worth, Arlington or in Tarrant and surrounding counties, you need a team of skilled Fort Worth criminal lawyers that have a proven track record of getting results for families facing juvenile charges. At the Fulgham Law Firm, you have the opportunity to work with a team of Former Prosecutors with over 80 years of criminal law experience and over 500 criminal jury trials. Do not trust your child’s fate to a court appointed attorney or law firm that lacks the skill, knowledge, or resources to protect your child.
A juvenile conviction could carry with it the possibility of jail time and have a profound influence on your child’s future education and employment. At Fulgham Law Firm P.C. our goal is to prevent jail time and to achieve a result that helps your child clear his or her record.
CALL US RIGHT NOW TO GET HELP.
We have helped hundreds of people in Texas, and we can help you too. We will set you up with a free conversation with Mr. Fulgham which will help you know what to do next. The Fulgham Law Firm serves Fort Worth and Tarrant county areas.