What To Expect In Juvenile Court

September 24, 2012


If your child has gotten into trouble and now faces a court date, it is because the probation department determined, at intake, that informal sanctions like a warning or deferred prosecution was not appropriate. Taking your child to court can be a humbling experience. Having an experienced juvenile defense attorney makes the process easier.

When the prosecutor receives your child’s case from the probation department, they must determine what to do with it. There are several options depending on the severity of the offense and your child’s history within the system.

The vast majority of juvenile cases in Texas are handled with a delinquency petition. At an adjudication hearing the judge will determine if your child did commit the act(s) they are accused of. If so, they can impose one of several sentencing options.

  1. Probation
  2. Texas Youth Commission commitment
  3. Driver’s License suspension
  4. Restitution and community service

Your child does have the right to a trial by jury under Texas law.

The prosecution can also decide to invoke determinate sentencing in your child’s case. This is reserved for one of many serious offenses and involves spending time in the custody of the Texas Youth Commission, if it is determined your child committed the crime.

Here are the penalties your child could face if the prosecutor decides to pursue determinate sentencing:

1st Degree Felony Up to 40 years in custody
Aggravated Controlled Substances Felony Up to 40 years in custody
2nd Degree Felony Up to 20 years in custody
3rd Degree Felony Up to 10 years in custody


If it is determined your child did, in fact, commit the alleged offense, they will serve their sentence with the Texas Youth Commission until they reach adulthood and then may be transferred to a Texas state prison for the remainder.