Written by attorney Jose Juan Salayandia

Texas Juvenile Law: A Brief Overview of the Certification Process (under 18 yrs old)

El Paso Texas Juvenile Certification (

If your child has been arrested, you are likely worried about what can happen to him or her. This brief guide describes a proceeding that could happen in your child’s case. I will be describing Texas Juvenile Certification as it relates to individuals under 18 years old (

The first thing one needs to understand is whether your child will be treated as an adult in traditional court. The juvenile justice system in Texas is considered to be a quasi-criminal process. Another distinction between adults and juveniles is that the prosecutor in Juvenile Court is the County Attorney ( while the District Attorney’s office ( the prosecutions for adult defendants. This is because the goals and concerns the state has are different from those it has for adults.

In Texas, “a person may not be prosecuted for or convicted of any offense committed before reaching age 17 years of age..." Tex. Pen Code Sec. 8.07(b). There are some exceptions that this guide will not discuss much further (perjury is an example). This section of the law also mentions the process that can bring a juvenile to the traditional criminal courts. It mentions that the child cannot be convicted in a traditional criminal court “ unless the juvenile court waives jurisdiction under Section 54.02.. (" of the Texas Family Court. This is because the juvenile court has jurisdiction over crimes alleged to have been committed by people under 17 years old. The process of the juvenile court waiving jurisdiction is commonly known as juvenile certification.

Texas Juvenile Certification ( a process where the state tries to have the child convicted as an adult. There are two major ways of doing this. The first one is if the individual accused of having committed the crime is under 18 years old when the prosecution will take place. _ Tex. Fam. Code Sec. 54.02(a ( The second one is if the individual accused of having committed the crime is over 18 years old. _ Tex. Fam. Code Sec. 54.02(j) ( Additionally, there is also mandatory certification which this guide will not discuss. _ Tex. Fam. Code Sec. 54.02(a) ( (3 ( ) (

Juvenile Certification in El Paso, Texas when the child is under 18 years old is authorized in section 54.02(a ( of the Texas Family Code. “The juvenile court may waive its exclusive original jurisdiction and transfer a child to the appropriate district court or criminal district court for criminal proceedings if: (1) the child is alleged to have violated a penal law of the grade of felony; (2) the child was:" (A) 14 years of age at time the alleged violation of the law occurred or (B) 15 years of age at the time the alleged violation of the law occurred. Tex. Fam. Code Sec. 54.02(a). The grade of the felony and type of felony dictate which age section controls.

Before the Juvenile Court can waive jurisdiction, the petition and notice requirements have to be satisfied for the hearing to take place. T ex. Fam. Code Sec. 54.02 ( The hearing will be without a jury and a full investigation has to be conducted where the “complete diagnostic study, social evaluations, and full investigations of the child, his circumstances, and the circumstances of the alleged offense" can be examined and reviewed. Tex. Fam. Code Sec. 54.02(d).

The Juvenile Court Will Consider The Factors (

In considering to waive jurisdiction of a juvenile case, the Juvenile Court will consider many factors that are important to the characteristics of the particular case. The attorney you hire ( review and prepare the arguments to address the pertinent factors to your son or daughter’s case.

Additional resources provided by the author

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