Larry P. McDougal
Larry P. McDougal - Attorney at Law
Richmond, Texas
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Juvenile Crimes Archives

What should I know about Texas juvenile justice?

The juvenile justice system in Texas tries to help juveniles who have started to follow the wrong path. A parent who has a child in this system usually has a lot of questions and concerns because the juvenile justice system is a lot different from the adult criminal justice system.

What to do after a child is arrested

One of a parent's worst nightmares is getting the phone call that their child has been arrested. Driving down to the police station, a million questions and fears overwhelm you. What could have caused him or her to do this? Will he or she have a criminal record forever? What kind of penalties will the court give? What kind of punishment should YOU give? What happened?

My child was interrogated by the school principal.

A school principal is undisputed an agent of the State of Texas.  Yet the rules that apply to police officers interrogating do not apply to school administrators.  Even if the police officer detains your child and brings them to the principal.  As long as the police officer leaves the room prior to the interrogation by the school principal the rights granted to any person when interrogated by the police do not apply.  In The Matter of VP.   This includes the right to an attorney or the right to remain silent.  So even though the principal is an agent of the State, they are not law enforcement and the questioning by a school principal is not a custodial interrogation as it would have been had a police officer conducted the questioning of your child. 

7 high school students detained for drug charges

A seventh student was arrested Feb. 25 in connection with distributing a synthetic form of LSD at a Texas high school. Two students at Montgomery High were hospitalized, and a third one died after using the drug. All but two of the arrested students are juveniles. The other two are 17-year-old girls, and they are facing charges of tampering with evidence.

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.

Juveniles give false confessions more often than adults

In Texas and other states across the country, police officers use the same techniques for interrogation on both juveniles and adults. However, a new study has revealed that teenagers and children are more likely to give false confessions than adults. Research shows that the younger a juvenile is, the more likely they are, while under pressure, to confess to something they did not do. Among 12- to 15-year-olds accused of a juvenile crime, 69 percent gave false confessions to rapes and homicides. Juveniles are generally more vulnerable to intimidation and the power of suggestion than adults. In addition, they are prone to choosing a short-term gain, such as ending an interrogation, over a long-term consequence, such as facing a jail sentence for a false confession. For this reason, it makes sense for police officers to use different interrogation techniques with children and teenagers than with adults. One psychology graduate student surveyed 178 law enforcement officers regarding the training they receive and their interrogation techniques. He discovered that almost all of the surveyed officers reported using the same interrogation techniques for adults and minors. Furthermore, he found that only around 20 percent of officers receive any instruction regarding adolescent development.American Psychologist published an article in 2006 that cited a review of exonerations that took place between 1989 and 2004. The review discovered that the rate of adult exonerations involving false confessions was 13 percent, compared to 42 percent among juvenile exonerations.One way for a defendant to avoid giving a false confession is to invoke his or her right to legal representation. A criminal defense lawyer may monitor an interrogation and instruct the defendant regarding which questions to answer and how to best answer them.

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