Tag Archives: Understanding the Legal Rights of Minors

Understanding the Legal Rights of Minors

As in many other states, 18 is the “age of majority” in Texas. That’s the age when people are considered to be adults. Before then, they’re considered to be “minors.” In Texas, a minor is a person who is under the age of 18 and has never been married or emancipated.

Age Affects Criminal Responsibility

In Texas, your age affects the punishment you’ll receive for any offense you’re convicted of. Criminal allegations against young offenders are filed as a petition in a court, and the petition states the age of the accused.

People who are between ages 10 and 15 are otherwise presumed incapable of committing an offense other than a juvenile curfew ordinance or order. A person may not be prosecuted for any offense if they are younger than 15, with the exception of these offenses:

  • Perjury (lying under oath) in some cases
  • Violation of a motor vehicle traffic ordinance
  • A misdemeanor punishable by a fine only
  • Certain very serious crimes, like capital felonies

Juvenile Courts Handle Cases Differently

In juvenile courts in Texas, people are called “respondents” instead of “defendants.” The hearings, procedural requirements and legal restrictions placed on juvenile cases are unique to this area of law. So are the purposes of this system: to rehabilitate the youth involved and to protect the public.

Minors Appear With their Parents in Juvenile Court

Unlike in adult court, minors accused of crimes appear with their parents or guardians in juvenile court. These parents or guardians are officially served a copy of the petition and summons. If they are not able to attend, the court will usually appoint a professional called a guardian ad litem who is there to protect the juvenile’s interests.

Juveniles May Have Their Criminal Records Sealed

One of the purposes of the juvenile justice system is “to remove, where appropriate, the taint of criminality from children committing certain unlawful acts.” That means juveniles may have their criminal records sealed if they are eligible.

If your record is sealed it may not be discoverable by most people doing a criminal background check on you. Because your records are sealed, offenses committed in your youth won’t prevent you from renting a nice apartment or getting a good job.

Get Legal Help to Protect Your Rights as a Minor

If you want to protect your rights as a minor in Texas, contact our experienced juvenile defense lawyers as soon as possible. Call our Fort Worth, Texas, law firm at 817-678-6771 or fill out our online contact form to talk with an experienced lawyer about your criminal defense.