The Certification of Juveniles in Texas


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.

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