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Teenagers and the Laws in Texas: What To Do if Your Teen Is in Trouble

The Law Firm of Andrea M. Kolski

More than 2 million juveniles and teenagers get arrested every year. Depending on the severity of the crime, the consequences can be life-changing. The Texas judicial system is tough on crime and can be especially harsh for teens or juveniles facing charges. Without experienced legal help, an accused teen could easily wind up with a lifetime of legal struggles.

If your son or daughter is facing legal trouble, this can be an unprecedented time for your family. It’s not safe to assume the Texas juvenile courts will act in your child’s best interest. You want to protect your son or daughter and help them through this process.

Laws in Texas regarding juvenile crimes are many and can be confusing. Navigating Texas juvenile courts can be equally confusing and frustrating for families. Hiring an experienced juvenile defense attorney is a wise move to defend your child’s future. Here’s a brief look at Texas juvenile laws and what you can do.

Juvenile Laws in Texas Explained

In the eyes of Texas law, a juvenile is someone who is between the ages of 10 and 17. People who fall in this age category will be charged as a juvenile in the court system. If one is 17 and approaching 18, this person may be charged as an adult depending on the circumstances of the crime.

Frequent Juvenile Charges

Some of the most frequent juvenile charges include marijuana possession, driving under the influence, vandalism, and drug possession. Additional charges include violation of probation.

Punishments will vary depending on the crime committed. Juveniles often receive a less severe punishment than adults. Some juveniles may only have a probation period and report to a probation officer.

While juvenile laws are intended to help the convicted rehabilitate and enter back into society, in reality the system is geared toward punishment rather than rehabilitation. It’s acknowledged that a juvenile might make bad choices that an adult would avoid. But unfortunately, the Texas court system isn’t known for going easy on defendants young or old.

If a juvenile commits a harsh crime such as murder, he or she may be charged as an adult and receive a significant amount of jail time. This applies even if they are under 18.

A determinate sentence forces juveniles to serve their sentence in an adult prison.

Important Considerations to Remember as a Parent

When your son or daughter gets into legal trouble, it can be a trying time. It’s important to stay focused and realize your main priority is to support and help your child. If you’re unsure what to do, here are some suggestions:

#1. Have an Open and Honest Conversation

As soon as you find out about your son or daughter’s charge, be sure to have an open, honest, and calm conversation with your child.

Ask him or her to sit down and explain what happened in detail. Refrain from anger or emotion until you get a complete understanding of the situation.

During this initial conversation, if your child admits to purposely committing a crime, try to understand his or her motive. As a parent, you want to understand the circumstances around the situation and your child’s actions. If your son or daughter has any history of mental illness or instability, this can be a factor in their case and should be explained to your attorney.

When a child commits a crime, they may believe that their parents can erase their legal troubles. While parents can be a great support system, it is important to remember that you cannot take away the consequences of your son or daughter’s actions.

When speaking to your child after an arrest, convey to them that you cannot make the charge go away. You can help them and guide them through the legal process (hire an attorney, etc), but ensure they know that you have legal limits.

#3. Talk to an Experienced Juvenile Defense Attorney

It’s no surprise the smartest thing you can do as a parent is to talk to an experienced juvenile defense attorney. They can explain all options in detail and help you and your family determine what path is best to move forward with.

It is essential to recognize that you are the parent and not your child’s attorney. Do not try to represent them or speak on their behalf after a criminal charge. This will likely make matters worse. Leave any communication with law enforcement or the courts up to your juvenile defense attorney.

Understandably, your son or daughter may be frightened and anxious about the legal process and his/her conviction. A juvenile defense attorney will walk them through the conviction process step by step and educate them about what to expect.

If the crime is severe enough where jail time is a strong possibility, your child’s attorney can help prepare them mentally for what potentially lies ahead and any other options available.

#4. Research Before Selecting an Attorney

It is crucial to perform extensive research when selecting an attorney. After learning of your child’s charge, you may feel rushed to start preparing for the legal process right away. While it is important to be proactive, do not select the first attorney you see out of convenience.

Referrals are a good start when seeking a good juvenile attorney. However, it might be difficult to talk about your child’s situation with others and still maintain your privacy. You can ask family members or friends if they have any experience hiring a juvenile defense attorney in your area, but if they don’t, it’s best to conduct your own research.

Online research is the easiest and fastest way to find qualified juvenile attorneys in your area. Once you make a list of candidates, call their offices and schedule case evaluations. If time permits, you want to talk to multiple firms before you decide.

Be sure to review the firms website and see how much content they have regarding juvenile law specifically. Blog posts are especially good for identifying a firms focus areas. You can also read his or her biography and client reviews- but don’t put all your faith in client reviews.

Unfortunately, fake reviews are common in every type of business- and law firms are no exception. Be sure to ask the attorney about any reviews you’ve read online and see if they can recite any details from that case or client. That will tell you whether the review is authentic. If the lawyer struggles to discuss that case, it may be a fake review- and you should think twice about trusting your child’s future to a lawyer who posts fake reviews.

You want an attorney that is local to the county or city where your child is charged and experienced in juvenile defense specifically. Additionally, you’ll want a defense attorney that’s compassionate, aggressive, and will fight hard for your child. You also want to make sure they don’t hand off your child’s case to an associate attorney or lesser experienced person in the firm.

Confirm the lawyer you meet is the lawyer that will represent your child from start to finish. Don’t fall for a bait and switch common in larger firms.

#5. Encourage Your Child to Prepare a Written Testimony

After you have initial conversations with your child about his or her crime, it is beneficial to have them prepare a written testimony. As time passes, their memory of the events that took place can become less clear.

If they commit their recollections and thoughts on paper, this can be a great tool to have during the conviction process. Your child’s juvenile defense attorney can use this written testimony to help determine what defense strategy would be most beneficial.

Attorney Andrea M. Kolski, Experienced Juvenile Defense

Few defense attorneys have over 20 years of success in Texas courtrooms. Defense attorney Andrea M. Kolski has extensive experience defending juveniles facing a wide range of charges. No case is too challenging for Andrea and her team. Her goal is to safeguard your child’s future and put any past mistakes behind them. Her compassion for young people facing charges is second to none and she will fight to insure the best possible outcome.

Your child’s future is worth protecting. Montgomery county juvenile defense attorney Andrea M. Kolski has the experience and skills to insure the best possible results.

How can Andrea help your child? To learn more, schedule a FREE, confidential case review today.

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