Houston Juvenile Crimes Defense Lawyer

State Can Use Juvenile Case To Enhance Punishment

Criminal Defense

In the State of Texas, if it is shown on the trial of a felony that the defendant has previously been finally convicted of a previous felony, the state can use the prior conviction to punish the defendant at a higher range of punishment. For example, if a defendant is charged with a second degree felony, found guilty and has a previous felony conviction of a third degree or above case, the second degree case will be bumped up to a first degree punishment range. Therefore, instead of facing two to twenty years in prison, the defendant would be subject to five to ninety nine years in prison. This is called an enhancement. That is a general synopsis of how enhancements work. They are different for misdemeanors and state jail felonies, but the main point to understand is that they are used to increase punishment.

If a defendant has a prior juvenile adjudication, can it be used to enhance their adult felony? It may come a surprise, but if your answer to the question is no, you would be wrong. In the state of Texas, the state can and does use prior juvenile adjudications to enhance adult punishment. The criteria to use the juvenile case is as follows. First, the juvenile case must have been for a felony. Second, the defendant would have had to be committed to the Texas Juvenile Justice Depart, what is commonly referred to as TDCJ. Third the juvenile offense would have to be committed after January 1, 1996.

If a defendant’s juvenile adjudication meets the three conditions, then they are final felony convictions that can be used to enhance adult felony convictions. As the example above explains, the second degree case would be punished as a first degree. A third degree case would be punished as second degree. For enhancement purposes in Texas, a first degree felony is raised from five to ninety nine years to fifteen to ninety nine years.

In Texas, if a defendant has two prior felony convictions, they are given habitual status. This means that the range of punishment is twenty five years to life in prison, if a defendant has two prior convictions. It is extremely important to note that, although a prior juvenile adjudication that meets the above criteria can be used to enhance punishment, it cannot be used as one of the two prior felony convictions to enhance a defendant to a habitual.

The criminal justice system in both Texas Juvenile Courts and in Texas Criminal Courts is complicated, scary and potentially life changing. An experienced, Texas Board Certified Attorney is your best choice when faced with a crisis that could involve prison time. Mario Madrid is a Houston Criminal Defense Lawyer who has over twenty years of experience. If you need the help of a Houston Criminal Defense Attorney, call Mario Madrid at 713-877-9400, for a free consultation.

Mario Madrid on Juvenile Crime

Criminal Defense | Drugs | DWI | Video Q & A

In this video presentation, Houston lawyer for criminal defense Mario Madrid, an attorney Board Certified to practice criminal law, sheds light on his passion for fighting on behalf of his clients and winning cases, in the court of law.

One of the more interesting facets of Mario Madrid’s oration is his pride in winning cases and relieving stress related to facing the State of Texas on criminal cases from the shoulders of his clients. Especially his younger clients, many of which would rightfully be concerned with the removal of criminal and arrest records from their background.

If you need to consult with a qualified criminal defense attorney in Houston about a criminal charge you have to address in Harris County, TX, call our criminal law firm by dialing 713-877-9400, or by simply pressing the number to call us if you are viewing this page from a cell phone.

Juvenile Crimes: The Facts Behind a Juvenile Offense

Juvenile Crimes

Juvenile crimes are illegal acts performed by a minor who is typically under the age of 18. These crimes are also called juvenile delinquency, youth crimes or juvenile offenses. Depending on the type and the severity of an occurrence, a minor may be tried as an adult. The penalties can be extensive and may leave a permanent record.

Possible Juvenile Crime Penalties

The penalties for a youth crime in Texas greatly depends on the age of the child, the type of crime and any previous criminal record. First-time offenders are often referred to residential placement or probation combined with counseling. However, the court can also waive the jurisdiction and transfer the case to the adult criminal system as needed. If the child enters the juvenile legal system, the options for defense become limited and should be handled by an experienced attorney. The possible consequences can include the following:

  • Confinement in juvenile detention
  • Reimbursement to the victim (restitution)
  • Prolonged probationary period
  • Inclusion of information about the crime in one’s permanent record
  • Diagnostic testing and psychological evaluations
  • Drug or alcohol counseling

The Juvenile Offense Process

If the arrest takes place, the offender will be most likely transported to the police station for booking. The process begins with recording the personal information such as the name and address. It is then followed by fingerprinting and photographs. Any statements obtained during the booking are documented. The child has the right to refuse to answer any questions until he or she can retain the help of a lawyer.

The minor cannot be held in an adult jail for longer than six hours and must be transferred to a juvenile facility or released into the custody of the minor’s parents or guardians. In some instances, the case may be diverted, allowing the child to enter a rehabilitation program, social services organizations or counseling without the necessity of dealing with the judicial system.

If the juvenile probation department decides on formal intervention by the juvenile court, the defendant’s attorney fights the prosecution to have the case dismissed and the charges lessened. During the hearing, the prosecution may also request for the case to be referred to an adult criminal court if the previous methods of intervention have not been successful. Every effort is implemented to use the most aggressive methods to protect the child’s rights and offer alternate venues of rehabilitation.

For more information about juvenile offenses, call 713-877-9400 to speak to an attorney at Madrid Law.

The Certification of Juveniles in Texas

Juvenile Crimes

Not all juveniles who are charged with a crime in Texas will have their case handled by the juvenile court system. The sentencing structure in Texas allows for juveniles to be transferred out of juvenile court and into adult court.

Emma Quintero on Juveniles Being Certified As Adults

In general, an individual charged with a crime will be sent to juvenile court if they are under the age of 19 and were over the age of 10 but under the age of 17 when the alleged crime was committed. However, there are exceptions.

In Texas, a child as young as the age of 14 can be tried and sentenced in adult court if the juvenile meets certain requirements and the juvenile court waives their jurisdiction. When this occurs, a child is said to be “certified” as an adult.

Texas Family Code Sec. 54.02 sets out the requirements for a juvenile to be certified. The juvenile must be charged with a felony offense and must have been at least 14 or 15 years old at the time the alleged crime was committed, depending on the level of the felony they are charged with.

In addition, after a hearing, the court must find that there is probable cause to believe that the child committed the offense and because of the seriousness of the offense or background of the child the welfare of the community requires that the juvenile be moved to adult court.

Texas Family Code 54.02(f) lists the main factors the court considers when deciding whether to certify a juvenile. These factors include whether the alleged crime was against a person, the sophistication and maturity of the child, and the prospects of adequate protection of the public and the likelihood of the rehabilitation of the child by resources available to the juvenile justice system.

Following certification, the juvenile is charged, tried, and sentenced in the adult criminal justice system, as if they were an adult.

To see the current state of juvenile certifications in Texas and issues that arise see: http://www.utexas.edu/lbj/sites/default/files/files/juvenilestexas–final.pdf

If a family member or loved one of yours has been accused of the commission of a crime, and is a juvenile, contact the criminal defense lawyers at Madrid Law, PLLC.

Houston Area Teenager Found Guilty of Murder


A 19 year old teenager has been found guilty of Murder by a Harris Count jury according to this story. The victim was a 17 year old female friend of the defendant. According to the prosecution the defendant killed the victim to keep her quiet about a drive by shooting. The prosecution presented evidence that the defendant, at the request of the victim, had shot at the victim’s ex-boyfriend’s house.

The defendant was set to enter the military. The defendant had heard that the victim was telling other people about the drive-by shooting. The defendant was concerned that the victim was jeopardizing his chance at getting into the military. According to the state, the defendant lured the victim to the woods by telling her that he had hidden some valuables and needed to dig them up. While beginning to dig, the defendant shot the victim in the back of the head, killing her.The state had a star witness who testified that he was present and saw the defendant commit the murder.

The punishment phase of trial will begin and conclude with the jury picking the defendant’s punishment. Murder is a First Degree Felony with a range of punishment of 5 to 99 years in the Texas Department of Corrections.

There is no possibility of a probation for a person convicted of Murder by a jury in Texas. The death penalty is not an option for murder. The punishment of death is only available for Capital Murder cases in Texas. One possible avenue to charge a defendant with Capital Murder under these facts would be to allege that the defendant committed the murder in the course of committing the felony of Retaliation. Texas Penal Code Section 19.03(2) provides Capital Murder occurs when the person intentionally commits the murder in the course of committing or attempting to commit kidnapping, burglary, robbery, aggravated sexual assault, arson, obstruction or retaliation, or terroristic threat under Section 22.07(a)(1), (3), (4), (5), or (6). Based on the facts of the case and their evaluation the Harris County District Attorney’s Office concluded that the proper charge should be Murder.

If you or someone you know is in need of Murder Attorney in Houston, call Houston Criminal Lawyer Mario Madrid at 73-877-9400.