A Child and Juvenile Justice In Fort Bend County
A child who breaks the law may enter a complex world of procedures, places and people called the Juvenile Justice System. In Texas, the ages of juvenile justice jurisdiction are 10 through 16. The Fort Bend County Juvenile Probation Department is locally administered at the county level and the handling of juveniles is strictly regulated by state law.
For minor violations, the police may simply warn the child and parents. However, when further action is needed to protect the public, or to prevent further offenses, the case is forwarded to the Juvenile Probation Department.
Intake is the process where juvenile probation officials review the facts of the case and determine the appropriate action to take based on the law.
Juvenile probation officials have several options when handling a juvenile referral. A juvenile case may be resolved through a supervisory caution, deferred prosecution, or by formal juvenile court action. When a juvenile is taken into custody, the juvenile officials decide where the juvenile will stay pending juvenile court proceedings. If juveniles are not released to the custody of parents or guardians, they are detained in a secure juvenile detention center.
All cases involving a felony or a misdemeanor offense involving violence to a person or use or possession of a weapon are immediately sent to the prosecutor's office. The prosecutor's office either handles the case, or refers it back to juvenile probation.
If a juvenile is placed in a detention facility, the juvenile court must hold a hearing on the matter within two working days. If the juvenile is detained on a Friday or Saturday, the detention hearing must be held on the first working day after the detention. At this initial hearing, and subsequent hearings held every ten working days, the judge must determine if there are sufficient grounds or good causes for continued detention.
Victims have the right to have their safety taken into consideration before a juvenile is released. However, detention hearings may take place before the victim has been contacted. You may call the crime victim assistance coordinator for the status of the case and information about victim's rights.
Some of the youngest, least serious (Class A and Class B Misdemeanor) offenders get a second chance to prove that no further action is needed to prevent future illegal activity. Those who succeed in the three to six month Deferred Prosecution program avoid a formal court hearing and continued involvement with authorities. During that time, the Juvenile must meet certain terms or the case could be referred to the prosecutor's office for subsequent court action. Making restitution to the victim or performing community service may be included in the juvenile's deferred prosecution program.