The idea of a criminal justice system is not only to penalize but also to rehabilitate. When children are involved in criminal activity, the focus of juvenile defense should be less on punitive actions and more on steering young offenders to make better choices and showing them that those choices can result in positive outcomes. Texas is making changes to try to improve those outcomes.
In order to curb what is perceived to be an issue with young offenders, historically some municipalities have passed ordinances prohibiting young people from being outside past a certain point. In Austin, such curfews were in practice for 27 years until they were ended last August. Texas advocates and lawmakers are now looking at juvenile defense data in the area to find out if this change had an impact on crime rates.
Four social advocacy groups recently released a report called, "Collateral Consequences" to draw attention to an increasing number of teenagers being arrested in Texas on charges of making terroristic threats and firearms violations. The report notes that this increase appears to be a result of recent shooting incidents in Santa Fe and Parkland. While some believe this increased vigilance keeps schools in Texas safe, others believe the juvenile defense and incarcerations could worsen the issue.
Juvenile justice systems are often the target of much controversy and criticism. This has particularly been the case in Texas, where turmoil and scandal have plagued the state's juvenile defense and corrections system. Recently, a new set of goals were handed down to the agency in order to support young offenders in rehabilitation, in hopes of refocusing the Texas Juvenile Justice Department as a whole.
Being taken into custody for underage drinking is one of the most frightening experiences an individual may have in Texas. After all, the state has zero tolerance for underage driving while intoxicated. A strong juvenile defense is likely necessary to overcome this type of criminal charge in the Lone Star State.
Young people today are exposed to outside influences in the world that may negatively affect the rest of their lives. In Texas, after his parent's divorced, one youth was shuttled between two households in dangerous neighborhoods. He soon turned to the streets to support himself. His activities landed him in trouble with the law, and he was sent to juvenile detention. "Juvie" is a place that most people claim is the beginning of a long life filled with juvenile defense attorneys and jail time.
Being a teenager or a preteen is a difficult time for many. Some are desperate to fit in with their peers and will often go to great lengths in their quest for approval. However, these lengths typically do not include criminal acts. Unfortunately, six young people in Texas may require assistance from a juvenile defense attorney after they were charged with felonies in connection to the vandalism of a high school football stadium.
Many Texas cities have instituted a curfew for minors in efforts to reduce the amount of juvenile crime. Some officials argue that this practice has had little or no effect on the number of juvenile defense cases. It has also been noted that the curfew may actually increase juvenile crimes for certain demographics. Given these observations, the city of Austin has now lifted the curfew for anyone under 17.
When youths are suspected of committing crimes, they may face an uncertain future. Issues concerning juvenile offenses can be complicated, and the potential consequences may cause more damage than intended. Juvenile court adjudications, especially for felony counts, may destroy a young person's chances for a positive and productive future, making a solid juvenile defense important. In some instances, based upon the seriousness of the accusations, juveniles can be required to stand trial in adult court.
An interesting study was recently conducted in Texas pertaining to teenage crime. A focal point of the study was whether the age of responsibility should be raised in this state. Currently, state law mandates those age 17 charged with crimes are to be tried as adults. Juvenile defense, then, is really no longer "juvenile" in such situations, not to mention that penalties under conviction could result in severe consequences.