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.
Moreover, the Juvenile Code seeks to give “treatment, training, and rehabilitation” for both the parent and offending child. This concept is probably the most refreshing aspect of the San Antonio and greater Bexar County juvenile justice system – the idea that we are trying to protect and develop the moral, mental, and physical development of children. That purpose is a far cry from the adult penal system with its emphasis on punishment as opposed to rehabilitation.
The San Antonio juvenile system can be also very draconian when needed, because one of the elements of the juvenile code is the removal of the child from the child’s parents when necessary for the child’s welfare. Finally, the Juvenile Justice Code creates a formal judicial procedure where juveniles are given a fair hearing that protects their constitutional rights.
If your child or a young adult has been charged with a crime, it is imperative that you seek a San Antonio juvenile criminal defense attorney to assist you. The implications of a juvenile criminal record can have lasting effects, and it is crucial you seek a Bexar County juvenile criminal defense lawyer without delay.