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Procedural Differences Between Juvenile And Adult Trials

While functioning similarly to the adult criminal justice system, the juvenile system is a hybrid of civil and criminal proceedings. For parents and children facing the adult or juvenile system for the first time, it can be challenging to know what steps to take. Based in Plano, Stephen H. Miller, Attorney at Law, defends the rights of teens charged with a juvenile offense.

Guilt Verses Delinquent Conduct

Texas courts consider youths ages 10-16 as juveniles. Judges and prosecutors throughout the state recognize that preteens and teens are perfectly capable of knowingly committing crimes at both the misdemeanor and felony level. Yet, these youths may not be able to comprehend the potential consequences of their unlawful actions.

Juvenile court proceedings are civil rather than criminal, aimed at teaching responsibility and accountability. Instead of determining guilt or innocence, juvenile courts seek to determine if the youth engaged in delinquent conduct.

Key Differences

Basic evidentiary rules apply, and the general trial process is the same and for adults and juveniles with a few noticeable procedural differences:

  • Parents or guardians must be present during all court proceedings
  • An intake probation officer must be present whenever the juvenile is in court in certain counties
  • The respondent can only choose whether a judge or jury determines the punishment in cases where the juvenile is charged and tried as an adult
  • A disposition hearing follows the trial

Changing The Focus From Incarceration To Rehabilitation

Although Texas has a reputation for being tough on crime, judges and prosecutors in Collin County are emphasizing rehabilitation rather than punishment to prevent further youths from getting lost within an imperfect system. Collaboration between all parties involved removes many of the confrontational aspects out of a system that has historically been adversarial.

Protecting Your Child’s Future

A criminal record can take away your child’s opportunities, but Mr. Miller can help. The firm answers phone calls 24 hours a day. To arrange an appointment, call 972-578-7097 or send the firm an email.