Juvenile Law

Children and teens make mistakes. But these mistakes shouldn’t have to dictate their entire future. When a minor commits a misdemeanor or even a felony, the Texas Juvenile Justice System intervenes in the place of regular adult court. Texas law for juvenile offenders is heavily focused on rehabilitation over strict punishment. As such, many juvenile cases carry less severe penalties than adult cases. However, an arrest and conviction can still be extremely taxing on a minor and their parents.

At the Hager Law Firm, our juvenile law attorneys know how stressful and confusing these cases can be. We work hard to provide compassionate care and thorough explanations of the juvenile court process to help you navigate this upsetting time.

Who Is a Juvenile?

The juvenile court system operates very differently from adult court. In Texas, a defendant is considered a juvenile if they are over the age of 10 but under the age of 17. While 17-year-olds are still considered minors in many other legal aspects (such as other branches of family law), they are considered adults when it comes to criminal charges. However, punishments and detentions for juveniles can last up until their 19th birthday.

Juvenile Arrest

Unlike with adults, a police officer does not need to obtain an arrest warrant to detain or arrest a minor. However, the juvenile in question must be taken to a specific juvenile processing center, and their parents or guardians must be made aware of the arrest as soon as reasonably possible. If an office has reason to believe that a minor violated the law, broke their probation, or engaged in delinquent conduct, they can detain them and process them right away.


Once a minor has been detained, the court has 48 hours to hold an initial hearing. This hearing is not a trial for their arrest but rather an assessment to determine whether or not the minor can be released. There is no bail system in the juvenile system, and only a successful hearing can release the minor. Parents and guardians are given ample notice before the court hearing. If a parent or guardian is unable to attend, the court will appoint a guardian to act in their stead and ensure the minor’s rights and interests are protected.

In most cases, juveniles will be released into the custody of their parents. However, the judge may rule to keep the minor in detention if any of the following conditions are met:

  • There is no parent or guardian present to provide adequate supervision of the minor or ensure the minor will return to court.
  • The minor is likely to run away or otherwise be removed from the court’s jurisdiction.
  • The minor has a previous history of juvenile delinquency charges or appears likely to commit additional offenses if released.
  • The judge has reason to believe the minor will be a danger to themselves or others if released.

In the case of a minor being returned to detention, additional hearings must be held every ten days to determine if release is warranted.

When a child or teen goes to court, a parent or guardian must be present. If no parent or guardian is able to attend trials or hearings, the judge will appoint a guardian in their stead. A juvenile does have the right to an attorney, and having a juvenile defense lawyer on your side can help ensure rehabilitation is at the forefront of the case.

Juvenile charges are not presented before a grand jury, but a minor does still have a right to a trial by jury. However, most court cases and procedures will look and feel different than adult cases. Because Texas law wants to dissuade further criminal acts in the future, the terms ‘guilty’ and ‘not guilty’ are not used in juvenile court. Instead, the allegations against a minor are considered either true or false.

Although highly uncommon, a juvenile may be tried as an adult under certain circumstances. However, a minor can only be charged as an adult if they are over the age of 14. In most cases, judges will work to keep the process in juvenile court. But if the defendant committed a serious penalty or has an extensive criminal record already, a judge may rule to try them as an adult. Even in these cases, however, most minor defendants still face less severe penalties than adults. For example, even if a minor is being charged as an adult, a judge cannot pass life in prison or the death penalty for their case.

To protect the rights of a minor and help with the rehabilitation process, juvenile records are restricted once someone turns 17. However, a restricted record can still be accessed by certain officials and must be disclosed when applying to schools, jobs, or financial institutions. Those with a juvenile record may get the record officially sealed if two years have passed since the original charge and the individual has not been arrested or convicted of any other charges since. Sealing a record can help create a clean slate upon which your child can build a better future.

Why Choose the Hager Law Firm for Juvenile Law?

Children and teens don’t always make the best decisions. At the Hager Law Firm, we understand that one mistake shouldn’t lead to a ruined future. As huge advocates for the protection of children and their rights, we treat each juvenile law case with understanding and care. We’re here to help guide you and your child through the court process while focusing on positive rehabilitation that will help prevent future charges.

If your child or teen was arrested, you have limited time to act before the initial hearing. Contact the Hager Law Firm today at (903) 466-0001 to ensure your child has representation in court and an advocate who will fight to defend their rights.