Criminal convictions can cause serious problems for juveniles in Texas

 
 

Teenagers are not known for their decision making skills. Unfortunately, juveniles who make poor decisions can face harsh consequences. This was recently highlighted in a case out of Florida, where a teen was expelled for allegedly having a bomb on school grounds.

In reality, the teen was preparing a potential science fair experiment. Although it is true that the experiment produced a small amount of smoke and a popping sound, no threats were made prior to the experiment and no one was injured. The student had no record of reprehensible conduct; even the principal stated that she was a "good kid." Yet, based on the school's zero tolerance policy she was expelled and now faces criminal charges.

The student had no intent to cause harm, yet one poor decision led to juvenile charges.

Impact of criminal conviction on a juvenile's future

A juvenile may experience the impact of a conviction for the rest of his or her life. Many states, including Texas, have passed legislation making it easier to charge juveniles as adults. Some legislators believe the harsher consequences tied to being tried as an adult will help deter youth from criminal behavior. Unfortunately, according to a recent report by PBS, there is very little research to support this line of thinking.

Instead, research indicates that juveniles convicted and sentenced as adults are more likely to commit additional crimes in the future.

Juvenile criminal records can also cause problems when seeking employment or college scholarships since state law does not require that these records be automatically sealed. Instead, the juvenile must proactively file an Application for Sealing of Files and Records with the court to request the files be sealed.

Texas law and juvenile crime

Texas state law allows juveniles as young as 14 to be tried as an adult. These children receive adult sentencing and serve terms in adult prisons. Even those who are not charged as an adult and tried instead within the juvenile system face stiff penalties. These penalties can include long sentences and potential imprisonment in an adult facility.

Juvenile charges can be issued for a variety of crimes, including:

It is important to take juvenile charges seriously. A strong defense can help led to dismissal of charges or reduce the risk of a sentence. Contact an experienced Texas juvenile defense lawyer to discuss your situation and better ensure your legal rights are protected.