By Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal
In Texas juveniles (under the age of 17) that are alleged to have committed crimes can be considered for what is known as “Deferred Prosecution” under Texas Family Code 53.03.
Deferred prosecution means that the juvenile completes an informal probation with the county and if that probation is successfully completed, then the charges are dismissed and not formally prosecuted. If the juvenile cannot successfully complete the deferred prosecution, then they can be formally prosecuted.
Deferred prosecution for juveniles is better than deferred adjudication is for adults in adult proceedings. In the adult world, the accused pleads guilty to the underlying charges but forever waives their ability to contest the original charges. Also, in the adult-system, the accused must gain the consent of the prosecutor to get deferred adjudication — not so in the Juvenile Court. In Juvenile Court, the juvenile has an absolute right to request deferred prosecution directly from the judge AND the juvenile retains the ability to fight the charges later should they be placed on probation… and probation not work out.
Deferred prosecution for juveniles in Texas is almost always a win-win. The prosecution gets to make sure the juvenile has some sort of semi-formal probation… the juvenile gets a clean record — and just as importantly the juvenile gets to retain his or her important legal rights to fight the case later if necessary.
*Jeremy Rosenthal is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and licensed by the Supreme Court of Texas. Nothing in this article should be considered legal advise. For specific legal advice, you should directly consult an attorney about your specific situation.