Understanding how to prepare for legal proceedings can be difficult if the offender is a juvenile. In Texas, juveniles are legally defined as those who are at least 10 years old but not yet 17. There are several key differences between how proceedings work for adults versus juveniles; being aware of them makes it much easier to know what you’re preparing for.
In some cases, when the crime is severe enough, an older juvenile may be tried as an adult. This is often the case with juvenile crimes that are particularly violent. In most instances, however, juveniles are tried by a different legal process.
From terminology to constitutional rights
One of the key differences between juvenile and adult proceedings is how the offense is referred to. Adults commit crimes, but with juveniles, they’re called delinquent acts. In addition, instead of going to trial, an adjudication hearing is held for juvenile offenses.
An individual’s constitutional rights also differ as juveniles are given fewer rights than adults. One of the main rights that adults have and juveniles don’t is the right to trial by a jury of peers. Instead, their cases are heard by judges. Additionally, juveniles aren’t given the right to a public trial or bail.
On the other hand, the proceedings for juvenile crimes have some built-in protections that adults don’t get. For one thing, the records of these cases are sealed, preventing these offenses from following a juvenile into adulthood. As long as the offender meets the required conditions, the delinquent act is generally expunged from their record once they turn 18.
Understanding the process
Juvenile offenses are handled differently from adult criminal charges in several different ways. From the way offenders are seen by a judge rather than a jury of their peers to the rights that the offender is given, it’s good to be aware of what’s to come when preparing for these types of proceedings.