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Juvenile Crimes Questions

Common Questions About Juvenile Law in Texas

Being charged with a crime is scary for adults and even scarier for children. There are special rules and procedures that must be followed when a child is charged with a crime. An attorney’s involvement is crucial to ensuring that a child’s rights and best interest is protected when brought into the juvenile justice system.

Below are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions regarding the juvenile justice system and juvenile crimes in Texas. For specific questions or urgent matters, please contact us now.

My child has been charged with delinquent conduct; what is that?

Delinquent conduct means a violation of the stated or federal criminal law or disobedience of an order of a municipal or justice court.

What is CINS?

Conduct Indicating a Need for Supervision, or CINS, means minor misconduct that violates less serious criminal laws and certain non-criminal conduct. Non-criminal conduct that is subject to a CINS finding includes truancy, running away from home, inhaling paint and glue, and fine only offenses. Some of the lesser law violations that may qualify as CINS are public intoxication, violations of written standards of student conduct, and violating a child-at-risk court order.

I received a summons; what do I do?

A summons is a notice that charges have been filed against your child and that the case is going to juvenile court. The summons must be served at least two days before the hearing, and it should contain information regarding the date, time, and location of the hearing, as well as a copy of the petition.

The petition is a document that contains the allegations of delinquent conduct.

Upon receiving a summons and petition, you should hire an attorney to determine the best way to respond to the allegations contained in the petition and get legal help right away.

I received a petition, but I did not receive anything in writing about the date, time, and location of the hearing. Am I required to appear?

Yes. Although you should receive date, time, and place information in writing, an oral notification, paired with delivery of a petition, has been held to be sufficient notice. Have your attorney assist you in getting date, time, and place information.

Do parents have to see evidence if their children is charged with delinquent conduct?

Yes! In addition to having the right to communicate privately with their child, parents are entitled to information including, but not limited to: the date and time their child was taken into custody; the name of the offense in which their child is charged, the names of other persons taken into custody with their child, and whether a weapon was used.

What is the difference between a detention hearing, adjudication hearing, and a disposition hearing?

A detention hearing is held after a child is taken into custody. Although it is one of the most informal of the hearings conducted in a juvenile case, a child still has the right to be represented by an attorney at this stage of the proceedings.

An adjudication hearing is the equivalent of a trial in a criminal case, and is separate from a disposition hearing. The disposition hearing is the equivalent of a sentencing hearing in a criminal case. A child has the right to an attorney in both the hearings.

Is there any way to avoid a final disposition?

The Texas Family Code requires a disposition to be made in every case where it is found that the child needs rehabilitation, or there is a need to protect the child or the public. If none of these findings are made, a final judgment may be entered without a disposition.

Things went wrong during the adjudication and disposition hearings; can I appeal?

Yes! A parent whose child is convicted of an offense may appeal the conviction!

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