Experience with the Juvenile Court System

Cody L. Cofer is a Former Juvenile Prosecutor

Cody can defend your child in front of a jury or judge. He can help you navigate the complicated juvenile system, and get your child the services that they need. Cody remains focused on the immediate needs of your child and the long term consequences of your child’s involvement in the juvenile system. As former juvenile prosecutor, Cody understands the complicated juvenile system.

Initial and Subsequent Detention Hearings:

Cody can represent your child in detention hearings where a judge decides whether your child is to return home or remain in detention. If your juvenile is delivered to the detention facility designated, a request for a detention hearing should be made and promptly presented to the court and a detention hearing without a jury should be held promptly. Specifically, generally Cody can require a detention hearing be held not later than the second working day after your juvenile is detained (The exception is when your juvenile is placed in detention on a Friday or Saturday, in which case the detention hearing must be held no later than the first working day. Your juvenile may be taken into custody by a law enforcement officer, including a school district peace officer commissioned under the Education Code if there is probable cause to believe that the juvenile has engaged in: (1) conduct which violates any penal law of Texas or any penal ordinance of a political subdivision of Texas; or (2) delinquent conduct or conduct indicating a need for supervision. Your juvenile may also be taken into custody by a law enforcement officer: (1) pursuant to an order of the juvenile court, including an order of immediate custody; (2) pursuant to the laws of arrest includes execution of an arrest warrant, and all of the other laws of arrest which apply to an adult; and (3) pursuant to a directive to apprehend. A juvenile may be taken into custody without an arrest warrant so long as a peace officer has probable cause to believe that thejuvenile has engaged in delinquent conduct that violates a penal law of this state.

Adjudication Hearing:

When the government files an adjudication petition, an adjudication hearing must be conducted before your juvenile may be found to have engaged in delinquent conduct or conduct indicating a need for supervision. After the government files the adjudication petition the juvenile court must set a time for the adjudication hearing. As in adult criminal cases, the burden of proof on the State is to prove the allegation in the petition. Cody will fight to hold the government to its burden of proving the allegations of the adjudication petition beyond a reasonable doubt. The requirement that the government prove the allegation beyond a reasonable doubt in a juvenile case is one of the essentials of due process and fair treatment. Further, like in the adult penal system, your juvenile is presumed innocent until all the essential elements of the government’s allegations have been proven beyond a reasonable doubt. If the government is successful in adjudicating your child then the court moves on to the disposition phase of the proceedings.

Disposition Hearing:

This is similar to the sentencing stage of an adult trial. You and your child will be required to participate in a “social study” following the adjudication phase. The report from this study will likely be used in the disposition phase of the proceedings. After the Court reviews the social study it may order probation supervision, placement out of the home, or commitment of the youth to the Texas Youth Commission. In its decision making, the Court may consider factors such as your child’s prior history of law violations, resources available to your child at home, school adjustment, or identified special needs. Cody can help you navigate this difficult process and work with the court and juvenile probation to see that your child’s needs are properly met.

Cody has experience handling juvenile cases ranging from minors in possession of alcohol to allegations of sexual assault. The juvenile law system differs substantially from the adult penal system. If your child’s attorney is not very familiar with these differences your child could suffer devastating consequences. Most people think juvenile records cannot be used later in life against your child. This is a dangerous misconception. Although, juvenile records are subject to being sealed or destroyed (few circumstances), these records can often be used against your child in later proceedings or your child can suffer lifelong consequences from the juvenile court’s determination. The collateral consequences are far reaching and potentially damaging to your child’s chances of ever fully putting their juvenile troubles behind them.