Jake and Todd, 15-year-olds in the Dallas area, decide that they want to have fun. It has been a long, hot summer with not much to do. They are bored of playing video games and sneaking beer by the barbecue. One night, they decide to do something different.
For a thrill, they plan to break into Danny’s house and give him a scare. Danny is the class nerd, so the boys figure that he is an easy target and might actually enjoy the attention. During the day, they scout out the house and see an easy way to climb up through a window into Danny’s room. They hatch their plan.
That night, each boy sneaks out of his house when their respective parents are watching TV in their bedrooms. They meet at the appointed spot and make their way to Danny’s house. At the house, they climb up the side of the house to Danny’s room and enter through the window. To their surprise, Danny is not there. Danny’s 12-year-old sister Chelsea walks into the room when she hears a commotion. They turn around when she walks into the room. Chelsea charges at the boys and starts hitting them. They grab Chelsea and pin her to the floor. They stand for a few more minutes and leave the house.
The next morning, the police oame to both Jake’s and Todd’s houses to arrest them. The police tell them that they are under the arrest for rape of a minor. The police take Jake and Todd to the juvenile detention center, book them, and send them to a holding cell. The police tell them that they will appear before a juvenile judge who wwill decide the next step. Later that day, they appear before a judge who transfers their cases to the Texas Criminal Court.
In 1973, the Texas Legislature enacted Title 3 of the Family Code, creating the Texas Juvenile Justice system. The Legislature stated that the main purpose of the Juvenile Justice System is:
Care and development of the minor;
Remove the stigma of a minor committing a criminal act;
Strengthen public safety
Have fair punishment for criminal acts considering the age of the offender;
Provide treatment, training, and support for a minor who fell into committing crime.
In 1995, the Texas Legislature considered that the 1973 Act was not contemplating the growing rate of minors committing crime and made significant changes to the 1973 Act. One of those changes was charging a minor like an adult when the minor committed certain acts. Those acts must be serious crimes like rape. The juvenile judge has discretion, based on the facts of the case, to refer a child to the Criminal Justice System in such an instance.
Note that the juvenile justice system services minors ages 10 to 17. After that, the person hits the age of majority.
Are you or your child accused of a juvenile crime? Contact the criminal defense firm of Christopher Abel, a Dallas-area criminal defense attorney.
(image courtesy of Andrew Neel)