Houston, Texas, Juvenile Crime Defense Lawyers
At Schaffer Carter & Associates, we understand that children make mistakes, succumb to peer pressure or are sometimes caught up in being at the wrong place at the wrong time with others who are acting unlawfully. If your child is facing criminal charges, it is important to retain knowledgeable representation by attorneys familiar with the Texas juvenile court system as well as the rights and options children have under Texas law.
At our law firm, our partners, associates and staff have over 100 years of combined legal experience handling every type of criminal matter, including juvenile crimes. We know what is at stake in these situations and our primary goal is to protect children by helping you act in their best interest. Contact us today to schedule a consultation by calling 713-574-9412. Outside the Houston calling area, dial 866-428-2472.
Houston Drug Alcohol Charge Lawyers Representing Minors for All Types of Infractions
In Texas, a juvenile offense is one that is committed by someone between the age of 10 and 16. Juvenile crimes are handled in different ways with varying degrees of intensity, including:
- Police may warn the child and parents for a minor first offense.
- Probation officers may be notified for more severe cases.
- Counseling, treatment, referral to social agencies, or the district attorney may file charges in severe cases.
Whether your child faces charges of shoplifting, truancy, theft, vandalism, a drug charge, alcohol-related charge or any other type of offense, we will zealously negotiate for the charges to be dropped, reduced or an alternative arrangement be accepted. We will help you understand the charges, potential consequences and look into the circumstances to help us formulate a potential solution that the prosecutor and judge will accept.
Child’s Rights in Custody
Even before a child is charged, when he or she is taken into custody, a parent must be notified. The child is then allowed up to two phone calls to a parent or guardian, responsible relative or employer and/or to an attorney.
Just like regular criminal constitutional protections, a child also has the right to remain silent until an attorney is present. If a child is not informed of his or her rights, then the public employee responsible is guilty of a misdemeanor. Once a child arrives at juvenile hall, the parent also has the following rights:
- To see the child and speak in private
- To visit the child in the juvenile facility
- To be notified of any proceedings involving the child
Our Houston, Texas, juvenile crime defense attorneys can help you assert these rights or bring timely motions if you or your child were denied these protections. We will act quickly if the intake or detainment processes are not correctly and fairly followed.
If Charges Are Filed
Many juvenile cases are handled by delinquency petition. At a hearing the judge will determine if the child did commit the act he or she is accused of. If so, the judge can impose one of several sentencing options, including: probation, Texas Youth Commission commitment, driver’s license suspension, or restitution and community service. We will do everything we can to persuade the judge of your child’s innocence and what option is most appropriate.
Certification as an Adult
If the offense is very serious or if the child has been in the system multiple times before and he is over 14 years old, the prosecution may determine he or she should be treated as an adult. If so, a certification hearing must be held. Before a certification hearing, the judge will order a full investigation of the case and the child. If the judge decides to “certify” the child as an adult, he will face criminal charges as an adult, with no protections that juveniles typically get. We will strenuously advocate against certification when we can.
Sealing a Child’s Record
Having a child’s record sealed ensures that no employers or schools will have access to the child’s records. By sealing a child’s record, you ensure: the records of arrest, detention, prosecution and conviction are physically sealed off, authorization by law to say that the child has never been convicted, and a start into adulthood with a clean slate.
In order to be eligible for most misdemeanor cases, two years must have passed since the child was last arrested or discharged from probation. For felony cases, the child may have to be 21 years old. In some cases, the law allows for the sealing of records before either of the above time limits. If the child has reoffended, he or she may lose the ability to seal his or her record. As part of our juvenile crime defense services, we can help you explore if your child is eligible and make the proper applications when appropriate.
Additionally, if a child has been ordered to register as a sex offender this can also be revoked if he or she meets the eligibility requirements to clear his or her record, meaning that the child will no longer be classified or have to register as a sex offender. We can help you with this petition as well.
Juvenile crime defense involves separate components that require experience and knowledge. At Schaffer Carter & Associates, our lawyers understand these complexities. We know how to navigate through the juvenile courts effectively and we will be by your side every step to explain what is happening, present options and help families make informed decisions. If your child needs proactive and strategic juvenile crime defense representation, contact us by calling 713-574-9412 or 1-800-328-8508.