Fort Worth & Dallas Texas Juvenile Law Attorneys
Experience in the Texas Juvenile Justice System
Often, you may think of the juvenile system as a penal system similar to that of adults, but for children. Of course there are similarities between the juvenile cases and adult cases, there are also substantial differences. Cody L. Cofer has experience as a juvenile prosecutor and juvenile defense attorney. The adult system focuses on public safety and punishment for criminal conduct. While public safety and holding juveniles accountable for their actions are certainly considerations, as the juvenile correctional system handles juvenile cases it places an emphasis on rehabilitation. However, for many offenses and in many circumstances your child can be incarcerated. Hiring a juvenile defense attorney early in the process can greatly help your chances of avoiding your child being sent to an institution.
People usually think that juvenile records will not follow your child into adulthood. Sadly this is often not the case. In many cases, juvenile records are sealed (or you can have your juvenile law attorney get these records sealed) so that children are given a second chance at life without the stigma of having been in trouble with the law. Sealing of records is not always possible, and this is one reason it is important to have representation throughout the juvenile justice process. Some exceptions to sealing juvenile records includes youth who have to register as sex offenders and youth who have committed serious enough offenses that require them to complete their sentences in the adult system. Juvenile records can be sealed for some purposes, but can be accessed for other purposes. It is important to understand the long-term ramifications associated with being referred to the juvenile system.
Terms to be familiar with:
A “juvenile” is a person who was at least 10 years old but not yet 17 at the time he or she committed an act defined as “delinquent conduct” or “conduct in need of supervision.” There are certain circumstances when a “juvenile” can be certified or “tried” as an adult.
“Delinquent conduct” is generally conduct that, if committed by an adult, could result in imprisonment or confinement in jail.
“Conduct in need of supervision” is generally conduct that, if committed by an adult, could result in only a fine or conduct that is not a violation if committed by an adult, such as truancy or running away from home. It is referred to as a CINS violation.
“Adjudication” is a finding that a youth has engaged in delinquent or CINS conduct. It is similar to a “conviction” in adult court. This is similar to a finding of “guilty” in the adult system.