In a world teeming with new challenges and experiences for our youth, it’s absolutely essential that we approach juvenile crime with compassion and empathy. As a juvenile defense attorney, I’ve witnessed numerous cases where minors make mistakes that can have lasting impacts on their lives. When children are involved, the need for a thoughtful defense strategy becomes even more paramount.
Common Juvenile Offenses
In Texas, as in many other states, there are several common juvenile offenses that minors may become involved in. These offenses can range from relatively minor to more serious offenses. Here are some common juvenile offenses in Texas:
- Minor in Possession (MIP) of Alcohol: It’s illegal for individuals under 21 to possess alcohol in Texas. MIP is a common alcohol related offense among Texas teenagers.
- Drug Possession: Possession of controlled substances, including marijuana, can result in juvenile charges. The severity of the offense depends on the type and quantity of drugs involved.
- Shoplifting and Theft: Minors may be charged with shoplifting or theft if caught stealing from stores or individuals. The value of the stolen items typically determines the severity of the offense.
- Vandalism and Criminal Mischief: Acts of vandalism, such as graffiti or property damage, can lead to criminal charges for juveniles.
- Assault: Juveniles can be charged with assault if they are involved in physical altercations with others. Assault charges can vary in severity.
- Burglary: Breaking and entering into a building or property with the intent to commit a crime, such as theft or vandalism, is considered burglary.
- Curfew Violations: Many Texas cities and counties have curfew laws that restrict the hours during which minors can be in public places without adult supervision.
- Truancy: Chronic absenteeism or skipping school without a valid excuse can lead to truancy charges for both the student and, in some cases, the parents.
- Criminal Trespass: Unlawfully entering or remaining on another person’s property without permission can result in criminal trespass charges.
- Internet and Cybercrimes: Engaging in cyberbullying, hacking, or other online offenses can lead to legal consequences for juveniles.
- Underage Driving Offenses: Minors can face charges for offenses such as driving without a license or driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs.
- Sexual Offenses: Minors engaging in sexual activity with other minors or engaging in inappropriate online behavior can be charged with sexual offenses.
Juvenile Criminal Defense
It’s essential to note that the severity of the punishment for these offenses can vary widely based on factors such as the minor’s age, the nature of the offense, and the minor’s prior criminal history. Additionally, the juvenile justice system in Texas is focused on rehabilitation rather than punishment, with an emphasis on providing services and support to help young offenders make better choices and avoid future criminal behavior. Juvenile defense attorneys play a crucial role in guiding minors and their families through the legal process and advocating for their best interests.