Articles Posted in Criminal Defense

Invariably, during my practice, I have come across multiple cases in which I could have mounted a strong defense on behalf of an accused party if they had simply not waived their constitutional rights. The police are trained to place an accused in a false state of comfort so they begin talking. However, an accused has no idea that the police are secretly videotaping everything especially on a San Antonio DWI charge. In the alternative, they do not understand that even if the police are not recording their testimony, the police are taking note of everything that is being said.

Can you imagine a jury having to weigh an accused suspect versus a police officer as to who said what ? The deck is already stacked against the suspect, even if the person is perfectly innocent.

Here are the 10 Rules for dealing with the Police:

In our last blog entry, we discussed several aspects of San Antonio and greater Bexar County juvenile adjudication , the equivalent of an adult criminal trial. In a juvenile delinquency proceeding, a juvenile may only be convicted upon proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

A San Antonio juvenile defense lawyer will pay particular attention to the petition, which must state the specific time, place, and manner of the alleged criminal acts and the specific penal laws the juvenile is alleged to have violated. If a trial does not prove the specific acts of a petition, then an acquittal is in order.

Moreover, the simple testimony of an accomplice is not enough to convict a juvenile. There must be other evidence presented to connect the juvenile to the crime beyond the testimony of an accomplice. Nor will a juvenile’s out of court statement be sufficient to prove an offense beyond a reasonable doubt. The same Texas Rules of Evidence that are applicable to San Antonio adult criminal defense are also applicable to the juvenile adjudication proceeding.

In our last blog entry on the differences between the Texas Juvenile and Adult Criminal Justice Systems , we touched base briefly on the fourth option available to the disposition of a juvenile case : Adjudication.

A San Antonio juvenile defense lawyer will always seek deferred prosecution for his clients but there are times the prosecutor and probation officer will not accept such a recommendation. In an adjudication, which is the equivalent of a criminal trial, it is absolutely essential that the juvenile appreciates the nature and potential consequences of an adjudication hearing. Under Section 54 of the Texas Family Code , a juvenile may not have been found to have engaged in delinquent conduct or conduct in need of supervision (CINS) without an adjudication hearing.

Adjudication will only be considered to have occurred after an evidentiary hearing. There are six (6) general ways the hearing will be conducted based on whether the juvenile is contesting the charges. If the client agrees, a San Antonio criminal defense lawyer will contest the charges and choose as to whether the trial should be conducted before a jury or as a bench trial before the judge. Where the juvenile decides not to contest the charges, there are four (4) possible ways to go depending on the local practice of the court: a stipulation of evidence, agreed statement of facts, judicial confession, or plea of true.

In our last blog entry on the Texas Juvenile Justice System, we introduced the basic purposes behind Texas juvenile justice. The San Antonio and greater Bexar County Juvenile Justice System possesses several distinct differences from the Texas Adult Criminal Justice System. The first major difference is the actual language or terminology used with the Texas juvenile system.

The juvenile equivalent of an adult criminal trial is known as ”adjudication”, but it is important to note that the Juvenile Justice Code clearly states that an adjudication is not a conviction. Whereas adult offenders must deal with vocabulary like “arrest, bail, bond, indictment, conviction, and sentence”, Texas juveniles have an entirely different set of terms. San Antonio juveniles can be “detained, referred, released from detention, adjudicated, and either placed on probation or be completely separated from their home”. The actual allegation against the juvenile is a civil petition, not a criminal indictment. Whereas adult records are subject to expunction, juvenile records are “sealed”.

The next major difference between a juvenile offender and an adult offender in Bexar County is the wider array of procedural options available to a juvenile under the Texas Juvenile Justice Code. In a criminal allegation against a juvenile, the alleged crime is classified as either “delinquent conduct” or “conduct in need of supervision”. Delinquent conduct is that conduct which violates a penal law and is punishable by jail. Conduct in need of supervision (CINS) generally includes less serious legal violations and certain types of non-criminal conduct, like violations of school conduct policy.

The Texas Juvenile Justice Code has undergone many changes over the past few years as legislators try to balance getting kids to accept responsibility for their conduct and distinguishing between adult crimes and juvenile crimes. The overarching consideration in how to treat juveniles in the criminal justice system has always been what is in the “best interest of the child”. Sometimes, what is in the best interest of the child can justify a harsh resolution as much as a lenient one.

Under the Texas Family Code, the juvenile courts have authority over any child provided the child is over the age of ten (10) and was under the age of seventeen (17) when the alleged crime took place. In fact, juvenile courts can adjudicate an act of juvenile delinquent conduct up to the child’s eighteenth (18th) birthday provided the events took place before the child’s seventeenth (17) birthday. Jurisdiction by the juvenile courts concludes upon the child’s attainment of eighteen (18) years of age.

The Texas Juvenile Justice Code, is contained in section 51.01 of the Family Code. The Juvenile Justice Code lists several purposes including but not limited to the protection of the public and public safety. While the Code seeks to promote the concept of punishment and deterrence, it also tries to remove the “taint of criminality” from those juveniles acting unlawfully.

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