As a parent, learning that your child has been arrested and charged with a criminal offense can be devastating. Suddenly, the future becomes uncertain and you wonder how this incident will shape the course of your child’s life. While this moment can feel like an overwhelming nightmare, it’s critical that you contact a skilled juvenile defense attorney right away. Most of your panic stems from a lack of familiarity with the Texas juvenile justice system, and your attorney will help you understand what to expect in the days, weeks, and months ahead. Now is not the time to leave your child’s future up to chance. Let’s take a look at just a few of the benefits of working with an experienced juvenile defense lawyer who can support you and your child through this challenging time.
Standing Up For Your Child’s Legal Rights
When law enforcement makes an arrest, they must follow a specific procedure that honors and protects the defendant’s Constitutional rights. Although most officers fulfill this obligation, some fail to inform these young people of their legal rights. For instance, if an officer fails to read the child their Miranda rights or subjects them to an illegal search and seizure of evidence without cause or a legal warrant, this action may be a violation of the individual’s rights. Additionally, people who are arrested must be reminded that they have the right to remain silent to avoid self-incrimination. Unfortunately, many juveniles do not know this is an option, and officers attempt to elicit a confession of guilt or a similar statement that could be used to build a case against them. Your attorney will immediately begin to review the circumstances of the arrest, looking for any potential rights violations. In some cases where arrest procedures were disregarded or violated, the case may end up being dismissed.
Helping You Navigate the Disposition Hearing
The majority of juvenile cases occur before a judge alone, but the defendant has the right to request a jury trial. In either case, the judge or jury will determine whether the charge (also known as the petition) is proven or not proven. Should the court determine that the petition is proven, the defendant will attend a Disposition Hearing. This hearing allows the judge to determine the nature and extent of any punitive measures required of the defendant as a result of their crime. Depending on the factors of the case, the judge may place the juvenile on probation or order the juvenile to participate in therapy or other rehabilitation programs. It’s essential that your child understands the importance of this hearing, as their composure, affect, and words can affect the outcome dramatically. Your juvenile defense attorney recognizes the high stakes of the Disposition Hearing, and they will help your child prepare for this event in the most strategic and effective way possible.
Assessing the Long-Term Impact of Juvenile Criminal Records
Many people mistakenly assume that all juvenile criminal charges become automatically sealed—permanently—once the child reaches 18 years of age. Although juvenile records are not public records, juvenile records can be used in future adult proceedings. If you want to ensure that your child’s criminal record remains permanently sealed, you will need to take additional legal action to achieve this goal. The specifics of the case will determine if someone is eligible to have their records sealed. Therefore, it is important to discuss your concerns with a trusted and experienced juvenile defense lawyer to learn more about your options for minimizing the impact of your child’s criminal record.
Defending Your Child From the Texas Criminal Justice System
If your child has been accused of a serious felony offense, the court may decide to try the case in the adult criminal justice system. While the juvenile justice system takes crimes seriously and imposes strict penalties, the adult criminal justice system is far more severe and punitive in nature. Reaching out to a dedicated and aggressive juvenile defense lawyer as soon as your child is arrested is the best way to keep the case within the juvenile justice system. Your attorney understands how to work within both systems to seek the most appropriate and fair outcome for your child.
Get the Trusted Legal Representation You Need Today
With the right juvenile defense attorney at your side, your family can navigate the intimidating Texas juvenile justice system with greater clarity and confidence. Your attorney will work to obtain the most favorable outcome possible given the case’s specific circumstances. Now is the time to protect your child’s future, so reach out to a trusted Texas attorney today to get started.
If your child has been detained in Pearland or Brazoria County, call the Law Offices of Keith G. Allen, PLLC, right away at (832) 230-0075 to schedule a free consultation with a seasoned juvenile defense lawyer.