Abuse - The definition of abuse shall have the meaning ascribed under Texas Family Code 261.001 and 261.401.

Adjudicate - The Texas Juvenile Justice System does not use the terms 'guilty' or 'innocent', instead they use the terms 'true' or 'not true'.  If the petition is found to be 'true', then the juvenile is considered adjudicated for an offense.

Adjudicate and Transfer - In the event that the child committed an offense in one county but resides in another county one option is for the district Attorney’s Office to adjudicate the child but transfer disposition to the county in which the juvenile resides.

Alcohol and Other Drug Assessment - A 3-part procedure that includes the following:  Psychosocial Interview (includes a comprehensive drug use history), Parent Interview, Substance Abuse Subtle Screening Inventory (SASSI-A2):  The purpose of the process is to determine whether a youth has alcohol or other drug issues or risk factors present in their lives that might lead to alcohol or other drug use issues.  Based on the results of the assessment process a level of services determination is made.

Alleged Victim - A juvenile alleged as being a victim of abuse, exploitation or neglect.  Alleged Victim may also refer to the alleged victim of an offense committed by a juvenile.

Appointment of Counsel - an appointment of an attorney by the court to represent an individual who is indigent.

Chief Juvenile Probation Officer - Regardless of title, the person hired by a juvenile board who is responsible for oversight of the day-to-day operations of a juvenile probation department including the juvenile probation department of a multi-county judicial district.

Child - according to juvenile law, a person ten years of age or older and under 17years. Also a person 17 years of age may fall under the juvenile court’s jurisdiction if he/she is alleged or is found to have engaged in delinquent conduct or conduct indicating a need for supervision prior to their 17th birthday.

Child in Need of Supervision (CHINS) - a child who is either excessively truant, runaway, or a habitual violator of laws and ordinances that are not punishable by imprisonment or by confinement in jail. A petition filed in juvenile court may allege that a child has engaged in conduct indicating a need for supervision.

Commission - The Texas Juvenile Probation Commission.

Community Service - juveniles involved with the Probation Department can be assigned community service in two ways.  The first is as part of the child's deferred prosecution agreement.  The second is to be ordered by the juvenile court to complete community service as part of the juvenile's conditions of probation.

Court Continuance - court ordered supervision with rules for 6 months without formal adjudication and disposition. Violation of the rules can result in formal adjudication and disposition.

Court Summary (Juvenile’s Social History) - a report compiled by a probation officer stating the results of an investigation and evaluation of a child and his present situation and concluding with alternatives, which the court can consider in determining the disposition of the case.

Custody - the actual physical possession of a child. The right of guardianship, which can be awarded by the court.

Deferred Prosecution (INFORMAL, NON-JUDICIAL) - a six-month period of informal probation where the child is assigned a probation officer/counselor who is available for any counseling that the child might need or request. It is completely voluntary and provides a second chance for first offenders when the offense is relatively minor.

Delinquent Conduct - conduct other than a traffic offense that violates a penal law of this state punishable by imprisonment or by confinement or jail; or the violation of a lawful order of the juvenile court. A petition filed in juvenile court may allege that a child engaged in delinquent conduct.

Detain - The Texas Juvenile Justice System does not use the term ‘arrest’ instead they use the word ‘detain’.

Detention - temporary care of a child who required secure custody pending court due to one of the following reasons: (1) he/she is likely to abscond or be removed from the jurisdiction of the court, (2) suitable supervision, care, or protection for him/her is not being provided by a parent, guardian, custodian, or other person, (3) he/she has no parent, guardian, custodian, or other person able to return him/her to the court when required, (4) he/she is may be dangerous to himself/herself or the community if released, or he/she has previously been found to be a delinquent child or has previously been convicted of a penal offense punishable by a term in jail or prison and is likely to commit an offense if released. A detention hearing must be held before a judge or referee to determine if at least one of these criteria are present before the child can be detained.

Determinate Sentencing - Effective September 1, 1987, legislation was enacted to deal with violent offenses committed by juveniles under the minimum certification age of 15. For many juveniles, the alternatives of probation or commitment to the Texas Juvenile Justice Division (discussed below) were insufficient. For example, before the determinate sentencing law was enacted, the juvenile system could respond to a capital murder committed by a child just before his 15th birthday with a maximum of only 6 years of control over him. Determinate sentencing was dramatically expanded during the legislative session in 1995. If a prosecutor chooses to invoke the option of determinate sentencing, the grand jury must approve the petition charging the juvenile with the offense. If the court or jury finds at the conclusion of an adjudication hearing that the child committed one of the specified offenses, the child may be committed to the Texas Youth Commission with a possible transfer to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) for up to 40 years, depending on the offense. A child is eligible for a determinate sentence if the child commits any of the following serious offenses: murder; capital murder; attempted capital murder; aggravated kidnapping; aggravated sexual assault; sexual assault; aggravated assault; aggravated robbery; injury to child, elderly individual, or disabled individual (excluding state jail felony); arson with bodily injury or death; aggravated controlled substance offenses; criminal solicitation; indecency with a child; criminal solicitation of a minor; and criminal attempt of murder or any "3g offense", which includes murder, capital murder, indecency with a child, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated sexual assault, aggravated robbery, sexual assault, and drug free zone enhanced controlled substance offenses. The law also provides a child may receive a determinate sentence for habitual felony conduct.

Directive to Apprehend - The Texas Juvenile Justice System does not use the term ‘warrant’ instead they use the word ‘directive to apprehend’.

Dispositional Hearing - a hearing which follows a finding by a judge of the juvenile court that a child has engaged in delinquent conduct or conduct indicating a need for supervision. Based on this finding, the judge is empowered to determine who shall have custody of the child. To assist him in the decision, a court report written by a probation officer spells out the alternatives, which are available for the court to consider.

Exploitation - The definition of exploitation shall have the meaning ascribed under Texas Family Code 261.001 and 261.401.

Felony - any offense punishable by confinement in the penitentiary or by death.  Juveniles may be placed out of their home or committed to the Texas Juvenile Justice Division for a felony offense.

Guardian ad litem - A detention hearing may be held without the presence of the child's parents if the court has been unable to locate them.  If no parent or guardian is present, the court shall appoint counsel or a guardian ad litem for the child. 

Indigent - lacking food, clothing, and other necessities of life because of poverty; needy; poor; impoverished.

Initial Detention Hearing - detention hearing without a jury shall be held promptly, but not later than the second working day after the child is taken into custody;  provided, however, that when a child is detained on a Friday or Saturday, then such detention hearing shall be held on the first working day after the child is taken into custody.

Intensive Supervision Probation (ISP) - ISP is a program designed to divert juvenile offenders who are in need of a highly structured, closely supervised program from out-of- home placement.  ISP demonstrates to offenders that probation means accountability and consequences as well as productive rehabilitative activities.  ISP provides to the juvenile within the family environment, when combined with surveillance, accountability and community protection, have proven to be effective alternatives to out-of-home placement. The emphasis of ISP is frequent surveillance, education, accountability and home restriction.

Intake - initial screening of new cases brought to the probation department. Intake Officer prepares case for review by District Attorney and prepares court report for dispositional hearing.

Juvenile Justice Program - A non-residential program operated for the benefit of juveniles referred to a juvenile probation department that is either directly administered by the juvenile probation department, or is operated under contract with a juvenile board. A juvenile justice program does not include any program operated in a facility that is licensed or operated by a state agency other than a facility registered with the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission.

Jurisdiction - the lawful authority of a court. The juvenile court has jurisdiction in cases in which legal custody or legal status of a child, or the protection of the child or community, is at stake, directly or indirectly, including any case in which the child, if he or she were an adult, would be the defendant in a criminal case.

Legal Custody - the term “legal custody” is used to denote those rights and responsibilities associated with the day-to-day care of a child. It is the “legal custody” of the child, which is normally transferred to an agency or guardian in cases where a child is found to be in need of supervision because of his/her conduct or because the child is dependent - neglected.

Misdemeanor - any offense lower than felony and generally punishable by fine or imprisonment other than in the penitentiary as an adult.  A child may be placed out of their home for a misdemeanor.  Juveniles may also be committed to the Texas Youth Commission after at 3 misdemeanor adjudications or modifications.

Modification - when a child already has Court Orders of Probation, the District Attorney may file a motion in the Juvenile Court to modify the existing orders of probation to account for a new referral or violation.

Neglect - The definition of neglect shall have the meaning ascribed under Texas Family Code 261.001 and 261.401.

Order - the written disposition of the court, which spells out custody, rules of probation and other provisions ordered by the court.

Petition - the legal document containing the allegation upon which the court’s jurisdiction can be based. The petition is a formal application for judicial action, made in writing to the court by the District Attorney or County Attorney. It alleges that the child engaged in either delinquent conduct or conduct indicating a need for supervision.

Placement - Residential placement of youth on probation is utilized when less restrictive efforts to gain compliance and achieve law abiding behaviors have been ineffective. Prior to placing a child, community supervision and resources will have been utilized to impact the youth’s behavior. Placement decisions are based upon evidence of a significant history of delinquency referrals, an essential need for rehabilitative services not available in the community, or the possibility of being ordered to the Texas Youth Commission. Youth placed at the expense of the department must be on formal probation. 

Plaintiff - the party in a civil action who makes complaint of an injury or cause of action/ analogous to the complainant in criminal procedure. The State of Texas is the plaintiff in juvenile matters.

Probation - probation is a legal status in which a child, following adjudication of an alleged offense or other misconduct, is permitted to remain in the community subject to supervision by the court through the Juvenile Probation Department or an agency designated by the court, and subject to being returned to the court, and subject to being returned to the court at any time during the probation period for the commission of further offenses or violations of probation.

Progressive Sanctions Model - the purpose of the Progressive Sanctions Model are to ensure that juvenile offenders face uniform and consistent consequences and punishments that correspond to the seriousness of each offender's current offense, prior delinquent history, special treatment or training needs, and the effectiveness of prior interventions.  It also allows flexibility in the decisions made in relation to the juvenile offender to the extent allowed law.  The model also recognizes that departures from the model are in some cases highly desirable based on each child's individual needs as assessed by the Department.  For further explanation, see §59.001 of the Texas Family Code.

Psychological Evaluation - A psychological evaluation consists of a clinical interview and a set of assessment procedures administered by a licensed psychologist or qualified mental health professional under the direction of a licensed psychologist to obtain information about a child’s behavior, learning, and mental health status. Evaluations are requested by probation officers, parent(s), and/or attorneys, or ordered by a judge. Collateral information is obtained from the parent(s), school, and/or other mental health professionals. The following are the most common components of a psychological evaluation. However, each evaluation is different, as is each individual's symptoms and behaviors are different. The evaluation may include the following:
  • description of behaviors present (i.e., when do the behaviors occur, how long does the behavior last, what are the conditions in which the behaviors most often occur)
  • description of symptoms noted (physical and psychiatric symptoms)
  • effects of behaviors/symptoms as related to the following:
    • work performance
    • school performance
    • relationships and interactions with others (i.e., peers, family members, neighbors)
    • family involvement
    • activity involvement
  • clinical interview
  • assessment of intellectual functioning, academic achievement, and personality
  • personal and family history of emotional, behavioral, or developmental disorders
    • complete medical history, including description of the individual's overall physical health, list of any other illnesses or conditions present, and any treatments currently being administered
  • diagnoses are rendered, if any
  • recommendations are made for behavior modification as well as outpatient treatment/counseling or residential treatment.
Psychiatric Evaluation - A psychiatric evaluation consists of a clinical interview, review of a psychological evaluation and usually results in a prescription of psychotropic medication to assist in alleviating symptoms of a mental disorder. A combination of medication and psychotherapy assist in managing symptoms of a mental disorder and/or stabilizing mood. A mental health professional, a staff nurse, a parent, a probation officer, or a judge may request a psychiatric evaluation. 

Referral - any alleged offense (felony, misdemeanor or status offense) or behavior reported to the Juvenile Probation Department by police, school, parents, or other person or agency. The Texas Juvenile Probation Commission considers a referral as conduct defined in Texas Family Code §51.03 that results in a face-to-face interview between the juvenile and the authorized staff of the juvenile probation department.

Respondent - the child who is appearing before a juvenile court to answer allegations of misconduct equivalent to a defendant in an adult case. The term reflects the usage of Civil Procedure in Juvenile Court.

Revocation of Probation- the action of the court in terminating a juvenile’s probation due to a transgression or failure to observe the rules of probation or because of the commission of a new offense.

Stipulation - the equivalent, in juvenile court, to a guilty plea. It is a legal procedure whereby a child may admit to the commission of an offense and waive the right to confront witnesses or to have a jury trial. It must be approved by the child’s attorney.

Subsequent Detention Hearing - If a child is detained at his initial detention hearing, a detention hearing must be held so that the court can make a determination on whether the child should remain in detention or be released to a responsible adult.

Suspended Commitment - a commitment by the court to the Texas Juvenile Justice Division which is set aside by the court for a period of time. Example: 90 day Suspended Commitment.

Texas Juvenile Justice Division (TJJD) - the state juvenile corrections agency. TJJD programs balance public protection and juvenile rehabilitation and prevention.

Transfer of Jurisdiction  (Certification) - jurisdiction may or may not be retained by a juvenile court over any child 14 years of age or older who is charged with an offense of the grade of felony. The court may, after diagnostic study, social evaluation, and a full investigation, deem contrary to the best interest of the child and the welfare of the public to retain jurisdiction and, transfer the offense to a grand jury for criminal proceedings.

Waiver - If a child upon counsel with his/her attorney does not wish to participate in a subsequent detention hearing the juvenile as well as his/her attorney may sign a waiver of a subsequent detention hearing.