Juvenile Criminal Defense Attorney and Record Expungement
Has your child been charged with a juvenile crime or have law enforcement officers called you implicating your child in an investigation? Do not delay or take a chance with your child’s future. Over the last few decades Texas laws have become more aggressive and your child could suffer lifelong consequences that could last into adulthood and for the rest of their life.
The Importance of Immediate Action on Juvenile Charges
Types of Juvenile Charges:
- Sex Crimes, Rape, Sexual Assault
- Juvenile DUI / DWI, Underage Drinking, Possession
- Car Theft
- Drug Offenses, Possession, Distribution
- Gun Crimes
- Shoplifting, Burglary, Theft and Related Crimes
- …And More
A “Juvenile” is defined in Texas as a child between the ages of 10 and 16 years old. When the State of Texas charges a juvenile, the child is normally alleged to have been “engaging in delinquent conduct” by committing a criminal offense(s), as defined in the Texas Penal Code, and the child’s case is handled within the Juvenile Justice System.
Even for a minor offense like marijuana possession consequences could include:
- Denial or revocation of a driver’s license.
- Denial of employment.
- Removal from school.
- Schools refusing financial aid.
- Eviction from public housing
Additionally, a child could be placed on probation, imprisoned in a probation camp, or sent to a juvenile prison.
In certain circumstances, the juvenile Judge may certify a child to be tried as an adult. This means adult court, facing adult punishment. In other situations, the DA’s office may elect to proceed with a determinant sentence, which provides in part that upon a delinquent finding, a child faces up to 40 years in the Texas penitentiary.
Whether or not your child is guilty of a crime, he or she should get to be dealt with fairly by both police and judges. Additionally, if you feel your kid acted incorrectly and deserves appropriate penalties, my office will get the job done to make sure that your own child is not punished too much or unfairly.
Two Types of Juvenile Cases
Juvenile cases come under two types of categories:
DEPENDENCY / CHILD’S COURT TEXAS
This area of juvenile law is intended for handling situations where kids happen to be taken from a parent’s care by a social worker or the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) for a variety of reasons. My firm is committed to assisting individuals in Texas hoping to take back custody of their kids and defends all of them against abuse or neglect charges that could be relevant in the case.
These types of juvenile law matters deal with criminal charges that are filed against somebody under 18 years of age. These individuals may eventually be tried as an adult. Nonetheless, all of the issues involving minors begin in delinquency court. A fitness hearing is normally held to determine if perhaps the child is fit to stand trial in adult or superior court.
My goals are straightforward: guide young people through the legal system properly and land in a place where they’re able to proceed with their lives.
I offer personalized focus on young people and their parents. I take the time necessary to know my clients and understand their circumstances completely. I find solutions for each individual who comes in my office. I direct family members to programs that can help with stressful situations in positive ways.
Clearing a Juvenile’s Record
Despite popular belief, a juvenile’s record is not automatically sealed upon turning the age of 18. This means that anyone of a “legitimate interest,” such as potential employers, college admissions personnel, law enforcement agencies, and potential landlords are readily able to search and discover an individual’s juvenile record. In order to give individuals the opportunity to have this information sealed, the law has granted the juvenile courts the power to seal records.
In Texas, the public has limited access to juvenile records, though certain individuals and agencies are permitted to view them. To ensure maximum confidentiality, you may be able to have your juvenile record officially sealed by following the guidelines below. Generally, sealed juvenile records are treated as though they never existed. You are not required to disclose information about your sealed juvenile record to anyone — for instance, to colleges or potential employers.
When a juvenile is tried in adult criminal court, all court files and proceedings are open to the public (as they are in all adult criminal cases), and the criminal defendant may be identified regardless of age. Juvenile court proceedings, however, are usually closed to the public.
In the case of juvenile criminal records, Texas law lets you seal some convictions after a waiting period. Another law lets you expunge some criminal records (i.e., minor alcohol violations) handled in municipal or justice courts. … You may petition the court for sealing immediately.
Expungement vs. Sealing vs. Non-Disclosure
It is not hard to understand why both expungement and sealing are confusing. Both legal remedies are similar in that they alter your record, but there are distinct differences.
Expungement, also known as expunction, refers to the complete elimination of your criminal record. This means the file, and all pertaining documentation, is destroyed. Your record is if it never existed.
Record sealing, or non-disclosure, limits access to your record and makes it harder for anyone to know about your criminal history. The documentation and file are still available, however. A government agency or a court order can open your record for view
Your Texas juvenile record may be sealed in one of two ways. Certain records are automatically restricted from view by everyone but criminal justice agencies. You can also ask a court to seal your records, which provides more complete confidentiality.
Your record may qualify for restricted access if all of the following are true:
- You are at least seventeen years old
- You were not classified as a violent or habitual offender, and
- Your case was not transferred to adult criminal court.
If you later commit a serious offense, your record will be removed from restricted access. Sex offender registration records and records related to criminal street gang activity cannot be restricted.
Asking a Court to Seal Your Record
In addition to the automatic restriction program, you can ask the court to permanently seal your record. Whether your record qualifies for sealing depends on the type of offense you committed.
Misdemeanor offenses. The court must seal your record if:
- At least two years have passed since the end of your case
- You have not been convicted of any other offenses, and
- No charges are pending against you.
Felony offenses. The court may agree to seal your record if:
- You are at least nineteen years old
- Your case was not transferred to adult criminal court
- Your record was not used in the punishment phase of a criminal proceeding, and
- You have not been convicted of another felony since the age of seventeen.
If you completed a drug court program. The court may agree to seal your misdemeanor or felony record if you completed a drug court program.
Exceptions. Your record will not qualify for sealing if your juvenile court sentence extended into your adult years, you have a sex offender registry record, or you were classified as a habitual offender.