Growing up isn’t easy. Even when you can count your blessings on more than two hands, your child still has to learn to navigate this world one way or another, and that takes time – and practice.
Experience tells us that stumbling is inevitable. As parents, it is our job to provide guidance where they’ll listen and protection when we can.
One way to do that is by understanding the likely pitfalls on your child’s journey. Including the possibility of them engaging in criminal acts. This short guide to the most common juvenile crimes among Texas children is a great place to start.
Traditional Juvenile Delinquencies in Texas
All of the activities we think about when someone mentions the term “juvenile delinquency” fall under this category. Often they are committed with a sense of mischief about them – no real harm meant at the time.
- Disorderly conduct such as using foul language or flashing, mooning, or “streaking”
- Getting in trouble at school by disrupting class, violating dress codes, and cheating
- Typical traffic violations, including not wearing a safety belt, failing to yield, and speeding
- Criminal nuisance like damage to a mailbox, “egging” or toilet papering a house
- Loitering or hanging around a restricted area
- False reporting like pulling a fire alarm or making false bomb or shooter threats
These are crimes for which a juvenile record would likely yield tougher consequences, but in most cases, a first-time offender receives something more akin to slap on the wrist.
Juvenile Status Offenses in Texas
These offenses are typically crimes only because of a youth’s age. If your child had committed these activities after they turned 18, they wouldn’t be considered illegal.
- Activities involving alcohol or tobacco products
- Truancy from school
- Curfew violations
- Running away from home (depending on the circumstances)
Juvenile courts view these kinds of offenses as minor and typically steer offending youth toward rehabilitation and social services. Processing may involve family crisis units, county attorneys, and other social agencies.
Texas Property Crimes Committed by Youth
While property crime rates among juveniles have been significantly reduced over the last few decades, they’re still fairly common occurrences.
- Shoplifting from retail outlets
- Stealing from friends and relatives
- “Borrowing” a friend or family member’s car
- Vandalism and other damage to local property
- Trespassing on vacant or private property or returning to a banned location
Due to technology advances in the digital age, we have seen an uptick in juvenile fraud cases – impersonating another person or utilizing email in a fraudulent way, for instance.
Whether a youth has a previous record of these offenses carries a lot of weight in how their case is handled in court.
Violent Juvenile Offenders in Texas
On the other hand, when a crime involves violence, the juvenile court system makes quick work of attempting to address it directly.
- Harassment incidents like insulting, taunting, or bullying to provoke violence
- Reckless endangerment, usually related to a vehicle
- Possession of a weapon, including pepper spray, metal knuckles, or firearms
- Simple assault or battery
- Murder, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault
The first four subcategories contain crimes in which prosecutors typically approach with the full force of the juvenile court system.
However, any time a violent juvenile crime takes place that involves offenses listed in the final bullet – and in some circumstances of the others – a juvenile offender may be subject to adult prosecution.
While this is not an exhaustive list of Texas juvenile offenses, knowing what activities are statistically committed by those around the same age as your kids can go a long way in helping you mitigate poor decision-making by your own children.
If we can prevent our youth from making life-altering decisions now, we are setting the stage to living a fulfilling and successful adult life someday. When your child does slip up, working with an experienced Texas juvenile defense team is the first step in getting them back on track.
About the Author:
Brandon Fulgham has an in-depth understanding of both Texas law and Texans themselves. Before practicing law here, he received his undergraduate degree from TCU, and his law degree from South Texas College of Law in Houston. After graduation, he worked in District Attorneys’ offices as a prosecutor, building cases designed to put people behind bars. Now, he uses that knowledge to protect the rights of people in and around Fort Worth, making sure they receive the strongest possible defense when they find themselves on the wrong side of the law. He has been recognized for his work by The National Trial Lawyers, Fort Worth Magazine, and others.