Houston Juvenile Offense Attorney
Has your child been accused of a crime? Are you concerned about what may happen if your child is convicted? Criminal convictions, even of a minor offense, can haunt your child for years—making it difficult to get into college or secure a job.
An act of delinquency is handled much differently than an adult crime. Juvenile courts have a unique set of rules for processing and sentencing. When your child has been charged with juvenile delinquency—anything from ignoring curfew, underage alcohol consumption, to armed robbery—you need the assistance of an experienced juvenile defense lawyer who understands the juvenile system and can develop a defense strategy to protect your child.
At David A. Breston, Attorney at Law in Houston, Texas, our attorneys have significant experience handling juvenile cases. We will dissect the charges against your child to refute them. We can recommend alternative sentencing options that keep your child out of juvenile detention.
This information will give you a general overview of juvenile law. To start planning your child's defense, contact us in Houston, Texas today. Call 1.888.220.4040 for a free initial phone consultation.
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Juvenile Matters - An Overview
Juvenile law deals with crimes committed by children. The maximum age for a juvenile offender varies from state to state, but is most commonly seventeen. By federal law, a juvenile is a person under the age of eighteen when he or she violates the law he or she is charged with. Governmental bodies, including the federal government, states and cities, prosecute various crimes committed by children, from traffic violations to felonies like rape and murder. If your child has been charged with a crime, it is essential that you seek legal counsel from an experienced juvenile defense attorney at once so that you can preserve his or her rights and future.
Children involved in juvenile court matters have many of the same rights their parents would have if they were accused of a crime. These rights include the right to remain silent, the right to cross-examine witnesses against them and the right to be represented by an attorney. Additionally, in most states, juvenile court records are not open to the public, but are sealed, so that no one will be able to access a juvenile record. A juvenile defense attorney can explain and clarify your local practices and take some of the mystery out of a frightening situation.
What To Do If Your Child Is Arrested
There can be few more frightening or intimidating telephone calls that a parent can receive than one saying that his or her child has been arrested. The first reaction of most parents is to panic. What is a parent to do? The first, and seemingly hardest, task is to avoid giving in to that panic. Your child needs your help now, as much as at any other time in his or her life. Panicking helps neither of you. To help you and your child in this most difficult time, you should consult an experienced juvenile defense attorney.
The second task is to keep the disciplinarian in you from clouding your judgment. Many parents of children who are arrested for relatively minor offenses, such as vandalism or shoplifting, are inclined to let the justice system "teach a lesson." Although all children need discipline, a child who is under arrest faces a system that is going to be far more frightening and intimidating than any he or she has ever encountered before. Your child needs your support.
Many states have adopted laws that make parents responsible for the actions of their children. Some states impose criminal liability on parents and other states provide that a parent may be sued by a person injured by their child. In addition, many cities and counties have enacted ordinances, or local laws, that make a parent guilty of an offense, such as "failing to supervise a minor," if a child breaks the law. Since the laws vary so much, and since the legal and financial consequences may be severe, you need an experienced juvenile attorney to advise you regarding your rights and responsibilities.
How the Juvenile Justice System Works
The juvenile justice system is based on the adult criminal justice system. The goal of juvenile court may differ from criminal court, but the processes have similarities in application. Both systems are based on protecting society and holding law-breakers accountable for his or her actions. Unlike adults, children may be sent to juvenile court through a variety of ways: arrest, truancy, "running away", curfew violations or referrals from teachers, victims or parents. Some youths enter alternative rehabilitation programs instead of the juvenile court system, it depends on the court, jurisdiction and if there are programs available to help the child. Others enter the juvenile justice system. A skilled and knowledgeable defense lawyer knows his or her way around the juvenile justice system and can navigate through the complex procedures to help you attain a fair conclusion for your child.
Trial as an Adult
There often is a possibility that a juvenile will be tried as an adult, in adult criminal court, rather than a hearing in juvenile court. The protections of a juvenile court proceeding do not exist in adult court. Court proceedings and records are not confidential, but are open to the public, and the court may impose the same sentence on the juvenile (jail time, fines and probation) that would be imposed on an adult. The full implications of trial as an adult can be more fully explained by an attorney knowledgeable in juvenile defense law.