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Juvenile Law and Its Unique Issues

by | Jul 1, 2010 | Juvenile Law |

Article Summary by: Marilee H. Brown, Comal County Lawyer

The first thing to know about incidents involving juveniles is that they are nothing like those involving adults. It is highly recommended that, if your son or daughter has been arrested for a criminal offense, you contact a juvenile practitioner; such an attorney will be more acclimated to the different needs and challenges of a juvenile case. A major distinction, for example, is the fact that a “child is not entitled to bond.” It is important to note, however, that the child is, under Texas Family Code Section 61.103 “entitled to have a parent, guardian, or attorney present while the juvenile is being processed.” According to this Section, the parent may privately communicate with the child under strict regulations including time restraints, secure location, and/or custody of the Texas Youth Commission. As this processing is the time when most written confessions are taken, having a parent or attorney present with the child is crucial, and the child cannot be detained for processing for more than 6 hours. If the child is not returned to the parent, a detention hearing must be held with both parent and counsel present. It is also possible that The Texas Family Code may mandate an administrative release if certain criteria are met.

If the child is accused of engaging in delinquent conduct, then a hearing will be scheduled the business day after the child’s arrest. However, based on the child’s behavior, the court may or may not choose to release the child pending the hearing. If release is denied, the child is granted additional hearings every 10th day to reevaluate behavior. While the determination of a child’s delinquency is governed by the Texas Penal Code (which is familiar to criminal lawyers), it is important to note that there “are procedures germane only to the juvenile process.” Another stipulation of juvenile law is that which states, under section 58.003 of the Texas Family Code, that all records can be sealed. The final, and possibly most difficult, act of representing a child is telling the parents. Bearing this in mind, make sure to inform the juvenile’s parents immediately that the child is your client. In closing, it is highly recommended that those who are not intimately familiar with the provisions of juvenile law contact someone who is, in the event that they are ever faced with representing a juvenile.

(Cite) Texas Bar Journal July 2010; Summarized from article by Judge Bill Mazur