When your child faces a criminal charge in Texas, the severity of the penalties he or she may face, if convicted, depends on several factors. Some states have laws in place that mean some juveniles face prosecution as adults when charged with certain offenses. Whether they do so typically depends on the seriousness of the offense and how close the offender is to reaching the age of 18. In Texas, the state recognizes something called “determinate sentencing” as an alternative form of sentencing for minors.
Per the Texas Attorney General, your child may undergo determinate sentencing if he or she receives a conviction for a serious offense, such as a capital crime or first-degree felony. Determinate sentencing means that, unlike most juvenile offenders, your child may have to remain behind bars beyond the day he or she turns 19.
What offenses might warrant determinate sentencing
Your child may face determinate sentencing if he or she receives a conviction for murder, manslaughter or aggravated kidnapping, robbery, assault or sexual assault. Minors who receive convictions involving arson, indecency with a child or criminal conspiracy, among other serious offenses, may also receive a determinate sentence.
How determinate sentencing works
If your son or daughter receives a determinate sentence, it may require him or her to remain behind bars for up to 40 years. The length of the sentence depends on the nature of the offense. A prosecuting attorney needs to secure grand jury approval before moving forward with requesting a determinate sentence.
The number of offenses that may lead to determinate sentencing in Texas has increased since the state began issuing these sentences.