JUVENILE LAW IS DIFFERENT THAN CRIMINAL LAW
Juvenile law is not criminal law. There are fundamental differences between these two areas of law. Many criminal defense attorneys are not aware of these differences nor are they aware of the significant ongoing changes in juvenile law enacted by the Texas legislature. The proper representation of juveniles is a complex and multi-disciplinary practice that requires knowledge of both civil and criminal law.
Legal Knowledge Required for Effective Juvenile Representation
A Harris County Juvenile Attorney at minimum must have a thorough understanding of the relevant interacting Texas law, including:
- the Juvenile Justice Code,
- the Penal Code,
- the Family Code,
- the Code of Criminal Procedure,
- the Rules of Evidence,
- the Controlled Substances Act, and
- the Rules of Appellate Procedure.
The Houston Juvenile Lawyer must also understand other issues such as the psychosocial and psychological development of adolescents. For a successful juvenile defense, all of these factors, including the facts of the case, must be thoroughly evaluated.
Was your child arrested? Contact Houston Juvenile Lawyer James Sullivan at (281) 546-6428 for a free confidential consultation.
Evolution of Texas Juvenile Law
Historically, juvenile law focused on rehabilitation of the youth. However, it is now an area which also looks toward punishment and, as a result, juvenile records and adjudications can affect your child for years to come. Indeed, for the most serious offenses, a child could be made to stand trial as an adult, and if found guilty could have a criminal conviction that could follow him the rest of his life. For sex offenses, juveniles can be made to register as a sex offender until age 28. Even a misdemeanor offense could affect his future education and employment.
What is Deferred Prosecution?
Deferred prosecution (pretrial diversion) may be an option for some. It is a contractual agreement with the prosecutor that can enable a juvenile to avoid an adjudication (conviction) on his juvenile record. If a juvenile fulfills the requirements of a six month deferred prosecution, then the prosecutor will non-suit (dismiss) the case, and the juvenile then has the immediate right to petition the court to seal his records. Even though the prosecutor is opposed to deferred prosecution in many types of cases, Houston Juvenile Attorney James Sullivan is effective in persuading courts to grant deferred prosecution anyway.
Juveniles in Texas Must Be Represented by a Lawyer
Texas law requires all juveniles in juvenile court to be represented by an attorney. Great care should be taken in selecting an attorney who can effectively represent your child in juvenile court. Even seemingly simple cases can involve complex legal issues that could become a nightmare for parents with a less knowledgeable or inexperienced attorney.
Consequences of Violating Juvenile Probation
It is natural that teenagers go through a period of rebellion as they make their way through adolescence, and of course some teens rebel more than others. However, if your child is on probation, it is very important that he follow the rules. If he breaks the rules, he may be removed from his home and placed in a juvenile facility or for felony cases committed to the Texas Juvenile Justice Department (TJJD) up to the age of 19. Obviously, each case is different and must be evaluated on an individual basis.
Children Need Effective Representation to Get Best Result
Many parents have the opinion that their child got himself in trouble despite their best efforts and therefore they are not willing to spend any money on a defense attorney, or worse they encourage their child to talk with the police without first consulting an attorney. These approaches, however, have led to many heartbreaking realizations later on. Your child is a blessing. Decisions made during these difficult years of his adolescence are critical to his future well-being. Your child needs an attorney who not only can relate to and counsel him but also who specializes in juvenile law and can effectively represent him. Be proactive and make your decision on retaining an attorney wisely.
Houston Juvenile Defense Attorney James Sullivan
Houston Juvenile Defense Attorney James Sullivan is very passionate about defending, counseling and inspiring his juvenile clients to get on the right path, to stay in school and to plan for the future. He wants all of his clients to have a successful future, just as all parents want their children to do better than they did. He strives to keep his clients at home and to keep their record clear, although he realizes that some are so out of control that for their own safety they need to be placed in a secure facility or residential drug treatment center. Many teens need the adversity and discipline of an out of home placement such as at boot camp or a private placement to learn to accept responsibility for their actions, to stop blaming others for their behavior and to build character.
Harris County Juvenile Attorney James Sullivan is Board Certified in Juvenile Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization since 2004.
Contact Harris County Juvenile Lawyer James Sullivan
Harris County Juvenile Lawyer James Sullivan handles all juvenile offenses in the juvenile courts in Harris County and throughout the state of Texas.
Whether your child is charged with a felony or a misdemeanor, James Sullivan can provide effective representation and advice. Don’t let one mistake ruin your child’s future.