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Delinquent Conduct: Conduct Indicating a Need for Supervision:

Texas Family Code Section 51.03

(a) Delinquent conduct is defined as:

conduct, other than a traffic offense, that violates a penal law of Texas or of the United States punishable by imprisonment or by confinement in jail;
conduct that violates a lawful order of a municipal court or justice court under circumstances that would constitute contempt of that court;
conduct that constitutes: Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), Flying While Intoxicated, Boating While Intoxicated, Intoxication Assault, Intoxication Manslaughter, and Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol by a minor (DUI).

(b) Conduct indicating a need for supervision includes:

conduct, other than a traffic offense, that violates the penal laws of Texas of the grade of misdemeanor that are punishable by a fine only (class c-misdemeanors); the penal ordinances of any political subdivision of Texas; the absence of a child on 10 or more days or parts of days within a 6 month period in the same school year or on 3 or more days or parts of days within a 4 week period from school; the voluntary absence of a child from the childís home without the consent of the childís parents or guardian for a substantial length of time or without intent to return; conduct prohibited by city ordinance or by state law involving the inhalation of the fumes or vapors of paint; or an act that violates a school districtís previously communicated written standards of student conduct for which the child has been expelled under Section 37.007(c), Texas Education Code.

Release from Detention: Texas Family Code Section 53.02

(a) If a child is brought before the court or delivered to a detention facility, the intake or other authorized officer of the court shall immediately make an investigation and shall release the child unless it appears that his detention is warranted under subsection (b), below.

(b) A child taken into custody may be detained prior to hearing on the petition only if:

the child is likely to abscond or be removed from the courtís jurisdiction;
suitable supervision, care, or protection for the child is not being provided by a parent, guardian, custodian, or other person;
the child has no parent, guardian, custodian, or other person able to return the child to the court when required;
the child may be dangerous to himself or herself or the child may threaten the safety of the public if released;
the child has previously been found to be a delinquent child or has previously been convicted of a penal offense punishable by a term in jail or prison and is likely to commit an offense if released; or
the childís detention is required under subsection (f), below.

(c) If the child is not released, a request for detention hearing shall be made and promptly presented to the court, and an informal detention hearing shall be held promptly, but not later than the second working day after the child is taken into custody. If the child is taken into custody on a Friday or Saturday, then the detention hearing shall be held on the first working day after the child is taken into custody.

(d) A release of a child to an adult must be conditioned on the agreement of the adult to be subject to the jurisdiction of the juvenile court and to an order of contempt by the court if the adult, after notification, is unable to produce the child at later proceedings.

(e) If a child being released under this section is expelled from school in a county with a population greater than 125,000, the release shall be conditioned on the childís attending a juvenile justice alternative education program pending a deferred prosecution or formal court disposition of the childís case.

(f) A child who is alleged to have engaged in delinquent conduct and to have used, possessed, or exhibited a firearm in the commission of the offense shall be detained until the child is released at the direction of the judge of the juvenile court, a substitute judge, or a referee appointed, including an oral direction by telephone, or until a detention hearing is held.

Detention Hearing: Texas Family Code Section 54.01

(a) Generally speaking, a detention hearing without a jury shall be held promptly, but not later than the second working day after the child is taken into custody; provided, however, that when a child is detained on a Friday or Saturday, then such detention hearing shall be held on the first working day after the child is taken into custody.

(b) Reasonable notice of the detention hearing, either oral or written, shall be given, stating the time, place, and purpose of the hearing. Notice shall be given to the child and, if they can be found, to his parents, guardian, or custodian. Prior to the beginning of the hearing, the court shall inform the parties of the childís right to counsel and to appointed counsel if they are indigent and of the childís right to remain silent with respect to any allegations of delinquent conduct or conduct indicating a need for supervision.

(c) At the detention hearing, the court may consider written reports from probation officers, professional court employees, or by professional consultants in addition to the testimony of witnesses. Prior to the detention hearing, the court shall provide the attorney for the child with access to all written matter to be considered by the court in making the detention decision. The court may order counsel not to reveal items to the child or his parents if such disclosure would materially harm the treatment and rehabilitation of the child or would substantially decrease the likelihood of receiving information from the same or similar sources in the future.

(d) A detention hearing may be held without the presence of the childís parents if the court has been unable to locate them. If no parent or guardian is present, the court shall appoint counsel or a guardian ad litem for the child.

(e) At the conclusion of the hearing the court shall order the child released from detention unless it appears that he is likely to abscond, suitable supervision is not being provided to the child, he has no parent or guardian able to return the child to court when required, he may be dangerous to himself or others, or he has previously been found to be a delinquent child or has been previously convicted of a penal offense higher than a Class C misdemeanor and is likely to commit an offense if released. If the judge concludes that the child should be detained, the detention order extends for no more than 10 working days. Further detention orders may be made following subsequent detention hearings. The initial detention hearing may not be waived, but subsequent detention hearing may be waived.

Preliminary Investigation & Determinations; Notice to Parents:

Texas Family Code Section 53.01

On referral of a child, the intake officer, probation officer, or other person authorized by the court shall conduct a preliminary investigation to determine whether the person referred is a child and whether there is probable cause to believe that the child engaged in delinquent conduct or conduct indicating a need for supervision. If it is determined that the person is not a child or there is no probable cause, the person shall immediately be released. The childís parents are to promptly receive notice of the whereabouts of the child and also a statement explaining why the child was taken into custody. If the child is alleged to have engaged in delinquent conduct of the grade of felony, or conduct constituting a misdemeanor offense involving violence to a person or the use or possession of a firearm, illegal knife, or club, then the case is immediately forwarded to the office of the prosecuting attorney.

Summons: Texas Family Code Section 53.06

The juvenile court shall direct issuance of a summons to the child named in the petition, the childís parents, guardian, or custodian, the childís guardian ad litem, and any other person who appears to the court to be a proper or necessary party to the proceeding. A party, other than the child, may waive service of summons by written stipulation or by voluntary appearance at the hearing.

Service of Summons: Texas Family Code Section 53.07

If a person to be served with a summons is in Texas and can be found, the summons shall be served upon him personally at least 2 days before the adjudication hearing. If he is in Texas but cannot be found, but his address is known or can be ascertained, the summons may be served on him by mailing a copy by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, at least 5 days before the day of the hearing. If he is outside Texas but can be found or his address is known, service of the summons may be made either by delivering a copy to him personally or mailing a copy to him by registered mail, return receipt requested, at least 5 days before the day of the adjudication hearing.

Attendance at Hearing: Parent or Other Guardian: Texas Family Code Section 51.115

Parents or guardians of a child are required by law to attend each court hearing affecting a child held under: possible transfer to criminal district/adult court; adjudication hearing; disposition hearing; hearing to modify disposition; release or transfer hearing. If a parent or guardian receives notice of any of these proceedings and is a resident of Texas, failure to appear could result in a fine for contempt of court.

Photographs & Fingerprints of Children: Texas Family Code Sections 58.002-0021

With limited exceptions, a child may not be photographed or fingerprinted without the consent of the juvenile court unless the child is taken into custody or referred to the juvenile court for conduct that constitutes a felony or a misdemeanor punishable by confinement in jail (which means a Class A or Class B misdemeanor). However, this prohibition does not prohibit law enforcement from photographing or fingerprinting a child who is not in custody if the childís parent or guardian voluntarily consents in writing. Furthermore, this prohibition does not apply to fingerprints that are required or authorized to be submitted or obtained for an application for a driverís license or personal identification card.

Waiver of Rights: Texas Family Code Section 51.09

Unless a contrary intent clearly appears elsewhere in the Family Code, any right granted to a child by this Section or by the constitution or laws of Texas or the United States may be waived in proceedings under this section if:

the waiver is made by the child and the attorney for the child;
the child and the attorney waiving the right are informed of and understand the right and the possible consequences of waiving it;
the waiver is voluntary; and
the waiver is made in writing or in court proceedings that are recorded.

Polygraph Examination: Texas Family Code Section 51.151

If a child is taken into custody pursuant to an order of the juvenile court or pursuant to the laws of arrest by a law enforcement officer, a person may not administer a polygraph examination to the child without the consent of the childís attorney or the juvenile court unless the child is transferred to a criminal district court for prosecution in the adult system. Bottom line: Do not consent to a polygraph examination without consulting with your lawyer.

Physical or Mental Examination: Texas Family Code Section 51.20

(a) At any stage of the proceedings the juvenile court may order a child who is referred to the juvenile court or who is alleged by a petition or found to have engaged in delinquent conduct or conduct indicating a need for supervision to be examined by the local mental health or mental retardation authority or another appropriate expert, including a physician, psychiatrist, or psychologist.

(b) If, after conducting an examination of a child and reviewing any other relevant information, there is reason to believe that the child has a mental illness or mental retardation, the probation department shall refer the child to the local mental health or mental retardation authority for evaluation and services, unless the prosecutor has filed a court petition against the child alleging delinquent conduct or conduct indicating a need for supervision.

Election Between Juvenile Court & Alternate Juvenile Court:

Texas Family Code Section 51.18

(a) This section applies only to a child who has a right to a trial before a juvenile court the judge of which is not an attorney licensed to practice in Texas.

(b) On any matter that may lead to an order appealable under Section 56.01 of the Family Code, a child may be tried before either the juvenile court or the alternate juvenile court.

(c) The child may elect to be tried before the alternate juvenile court only if the child files a written notice with that court not later than 10 days before the date of the trial. After the notice is filed, the child may be tried only in the alternate juvenile court. If the child does not file a notice as provided by this section, the child may be tried only in the juvenile court.

(d) If the child is tried before the juvenile court, the child is not entitled to a trial de novo before the alternate juvenile court.

Transfer/Waiver:

Texas Family Code Section 54.02

The juvenile court may waive its exclusive original jurisdiction and transfer a child to the appropriate criminal district court to be tried as an adult if the child is alleged to have violated a penal law of the grade of felony if the child was 14 years of age or older at the time he is alleged to have committed the offense, if the offense is a capital felony, an aggravated controlled substance felony, or a felony of the first degree; or 15 years of age or older at the time the child is alleged to have committed the offense, if the offense is a felony of the second or third degree or a state jail felony.

The juvenile court judge is not required to certify a child to stand trial as an adult. Itís a judgment call. The juvenile court judge will investigate the matter and hold a hearing on the transfer request. The judge orders a complete diagnostic study, social evaluation, and a full investigation of the child, his circumstances, and the circumstances of the alleged offense. At the transfer hearing the court may consider written reports from probation officers, professional court employees, or professional consultants in addition to the testimony of witnesses. In making her decision whether to transfer the case to the adult court, the judge considers: (1) whether the alleged offense was against person or property, with greater weight in favor of transfer given to offenses against a person; (2) the sophistication and maturity of the child; (3) the record and previous history of the child; and (4) the prospects of adequate protection of the public and the likelihood of the rehabilitation of the child by use or procedures, services, and facilities currently available to the juvenile court.

Habitual Felony Conduct: Texas Family Code Section 51.031

(a) Habitual felony conduct is conduct violating a penal law of the grade of felony, other than a state jail felony, if:

the child who engaged in the conduct has at least 2 previous final adjudications as having engaged in delinquent conduct violating a penal law of the grade of felony; and,
the second previous final adjudication is for conduct that occurred after the date the first previous adjudication became final; and,
all appeals relating to the previous adjudications have been exhausted.
Review by Prosecutor: Texas Family Code Section 53.012

The prosecuting attorney shall promptly review the circumstances and allegations of a referral made to her for legal sufficiency and the desirability of prosecution and may file a petition without regard to whether probable cause was found during the courtís preliminary investigation.

If the prosecutor does not file a petition requesting the adjudication of the child referred to the prosecutor, the prosecutor must terminate all proceedings, if the reason is for the lack of probable cause; or return the referral to the juvenile probation department for further proceedings.

Deferred Prosecution: Texas Family Code Section 53.03

(a) Subject to subsections (e) and (g) below, if the preliminary investigation results in a determination that further proceedings in the case are authorized, the probation officer or other designated officer of the court, subject to the direction of the juvenile court, may advise the parties for a reasonable period of time not to exceed 6 months concerning deferred prosecution and rehabilitation of a child if:

deferred prosecution would be in the best interest of the public and child;
the child and her parent, guardian, or custodian consent with knowledge that consent is not obligatory; and
the child and his parent, guardian, or custodian are informed that they may terminate the deferred prosecution at any point and petition the court for a court hearing in the case.

(b) Except as otherwise permitted, the child may not be detained during or as a result of the deferred prosecution process.

(c) An incriminating statement made by a participant to the person giving advice and in the discussion or conferences incident thereto may not be used against the declarant in any court hearing.

(d) The court may adopt a fee schedule for deferred prosecution services. The maximum fee is $15 per month.

(e) The prosecuting attorney may defer prosecution for any child. A probation officer or other designated officer of the court may defer prosecution for a child who has previously been adjudicated for conduct that constitutes a felony only if the prosecuting attorney consents in writing.

(f) The probation officer or other officer supervising a program of deferred prosecution for a child shall report to the juvenile court any violation by the child of the program.

(g) Prosecution may not be deferred for a child alleged to have engaged in conduct that constitutes: driving/flying/boating while intoxicated, intoxication assault, intoxication manslaughter, or that constitutes a third or subsequent offense of consumption of alcohol by a minor or driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) of a minor.

First Offender Program: Texas Family Code Section 52.031

A juvenile board may establish a first offender program for the referral and disposition of children taken into custody for: (1) conduct indicating a need for supervision; or (2) delinquent conduct other than conduct that constitutes a felony of the first, second, or third degree, an aggravated controlled substance felony, or a capital felony; or a state jail felony or misdemeanor involving violence to a person or the use or possession of a firearm, illegal knife, or club, or a prohibited weapon, as described by Section 46.05, Texas Penal Code. If the child has previously been adjudicated as having engaged in delinquent conduct he may be ineligible for the First Offender Program. Also, the childís parents or guardian must receive notice that the child has been referred for disposition under the First Offender Program.

Teen Court Program: Texas Family Code Section 54.032

A juvenile court may defer adjudication proceedings during an adjudication hearing for not more than 180 days if the child:

(1) is alleged to have engaged in conduct indicating a need for supervision that violated a penal law of Texas of the grade of misdemeanor that is punishable by a fine only or a penal ordinance of a political subdivision of Texas;

(2) waives the privilege against self-incrimination and testifies under oath that the allegations are true;

(3) presents to the court an oral or written request to attend a teen court program; and

(4) has not successfully completed a teen court program for the violation of the same penal law or ordinance in the two years preceding the date that the alleged conduct occurred.

Texas Family Code Section 54.0406

(a) If a court or jury places a child on probation for conduct that violates a penal law that includes as an element of the offense the possession, carrying, using, or exhibiting of a handgun, and if at the adjudication hearing the court or the jury affirmatively finds that the child personally possessed, carried, used, or exhibited a handgun, the court must require as a condition of probation that the child, not later than the 30th day after the date the court places the child on probation, notify the juvenile probation officer who is supervising the child of the manner in which the child acquired the handgun, including the date and place of any person involved in the acquisition. The juvenile probation officer is then to relay any relevant information regarding the handgun to the police. Your lawyer should be with you when this takes place.

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