Juvenile Sex Offenses in Harris County Are Serious
This Guide lists possible consequences of a juvenile sex offense. Attorney James Sullivan is Board Certified in Juvenile Law and frequently defends juveniles accused of sex offenses in Harris, Montgomery, Fort Bend and surrounding counties.
DISCRETIONARY TRANSFER TO CRIMINAL COURTAn Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child offense is a first degree felony. If the juvenile is 14 years of age or older at the time of the alleged offense, the State can seek to have the juvenile transferred to criminal court and stand trial as an adult. In adult court, the range of punishment is from five years to life in prison.Indecency with a Child can be either a second or third degree felony. If the juvenile is 15 years of age or older at the time of the alleged offense, the State can seek to have the juvenile transferred to criminal court and stand trial as an adult. In adult court, the range of punishment is from 2 years to 10 or 20 years in prison.Although less common, this certainly occurs in the more egregious cases such as where there are multiple victims, the victim was very young or the abuse occurred over a lengthy time, etc.
DETERMINATE SENTENCEInstead of a transfer to criminal court, the State can also seek a Determinate Sentence for a juvenile aged 10 years or older for a juvenile felony sex offense. If this were to happen, a juvenile could never seal his juvenile record. He could be placed on probation for up to 10 years with automatic transfer to adult probation at age 18. He could also be sent to the Texas Juvenile Justice Department (formerly known as the Texas Youth Commission) for up to 40 years for a first degree felony, up to 20 years for a second degree felony and up to 10 years for a third degree felony. If sent to TJJD and to be eligible for parole, he first has to stay a minimum of 3 calendar years for a first degree felony, 2 calendar years for a second degree felony and 1 calendar year for a third degree felony. If the juvenile does not parole out by age 19, then he is automatically transferred to adult prison, although depending on his behavior he could be transferred as early as age 16.
INDETERMINATE SENTENCEInstead of the severe consequences of a transfer to adult court or determinate sentence, the State can proceed with an Indeterminate Sentence. In such a case, the juvenile could petition the court to seal his record at age 19 as long as he is not required to register as a sex offender. Also, the juvenile could receive probation until age 18. As a condition of probation, he could be placed outside his home for sex offender counseling and treatment. He could also be sent to TJJD where he could be held until age 19.
SEX OFFENDER REGISTRATIONThe Judge can also order the juvenile to register as a sex offender until age 28. The defense attorney may be able to persuade the State to agree to defer registration, i.e. the Judge will make the decision regarding sex offender registration after the juvenile completes his or her sex offender counseling.