Larry P. McDougal
Larry P. McDougal - Attorney at Law
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Juveniles charged as adults in Texas

In some cases, a prosecutor in Texas may elect to charge a juvenile as an adult for crimes allegedly committed by the young person. A juvenile who is charged as an adult will face adult penalties, including the possibility of prison time, rather than having the case proceed through the juvenile justice system.

The law provides that a juvenile who is charged with what would be a felony offense if the juvenile was an adult may be prosecuted in adult court if the juvenile is 14 years old or older. Eligible felonies in this category include capital offenses, felonies of the first degree and aggravated controlled substance offenses.

A juvenile who is 15 years old or older may face adult prosecution if the charged offense is a second or third degree felony or a state jail felony. For eligibility of adult prosecution, no adjudication hearing may have been conducted for the offense. Adult charging may occur only after the court holds a probable cause hearing, at which the court determines it is likely the juvenile committed the offense and that either the serious nature of the offense or the juvenile's background indicates adult criminal proceedings are in order.

The potential penalties associated with a juvenile's being tried as an adult can be severe. Juveniles and their families may want to seek the assistance of a criminal defense attorney to advocate against the juvenile's case being moved to adult criminal court. Juvenile court proceedings are focused more on rehabilitation, while adult criminal courts are focused more on punishment. In most cases, juveniles who are charged with crimes may benefit much more when the focus is on rehabilitation as they are still developing.

Source: FindLaw, "Tex FA. Code Ann § 54.02 : Texas Statutes - Section 54.02", accessed on Feb. 15, 2015

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