In the state of Texas, a juvenile is defined as someone who has reached the age of 10 but was not yet 17 at the time they committed an act of "delinquent conduct". Penalties for allegations of a juvenile crime can vary widely depending on the seriousness of the offense. Also, according to the Texas Juvenile Justice Department, there are many differences between penalties imposed on juveniles as opposed to adults who may have committed similar crimes. While the adult penal system focuses primarily on public safety and punishment for a crime, the Juvenile Justice Department also places an emphasis on rehabilitation.
Even when jail time is part of the penalty, the incarceration focuses mostly on a protective and educational environment that teaches the juvenile about discipline, values, and ethics in hopes they will lead a productive, positive life. However, this is not always the case. A minor can, in some cases, face a sentence in an adult prison depending on their behavior within the juvenile system.
When a teenager is accused of a crime, there can be many repercussions. Not only will they face penalties, often life-changing and far-reaching, but also other aspects of their life can be affected such as their reputation, their mental well-being, and future educational and employment prospects.
Juvenile crimes can range from any number of acts from the more minor such as underage drinking or shoplifting to the severe such as assault, gang activity, or a drug charge. In all cases, juveniles have the same legal rights as adults.
Regardless of the allegations against them, when you have a child facing charges, you want to ensure their legal representation has their best interests in mind and that they have substantial juvenile crime experience.