By Dallas and Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal
Often parents dealing with the juvenile justice system feel like they’re wading deeper and deeper into quicksand. Believe me — I get it! Today’s blog is about giving you a defense lawyer’s take.
For starters, Collin County has a dedicated Court for juvenile cases — that being the 417th District Court. Regardless of the level of offense (for everything over a Class C), any and all juvenile cases are currently brought in that court. The Court is assigned a team of 3 prosecutors by the Collin County District Attorney’s office and there is also a team of juvenile probation officers which assist the Court and the DA’s office in making evaluations and reccomendations.
Probably the biggest source of frustration for parents and defense attorneys alike is the unique rehabilitative role played by the State (and by State I am combining the prosecutors and the probation officers) when it comes into conflict with your juvenile’s legal rights. The State often isn’t as concerned as they need to be about the rights of your son or daughter — and experience tells me they often they skip the facts of the case and proceed to the punishment or “rehabilitative” phase of the case too quickly.
Not only that, but sometimes it seems as if the evaluator comes away with a very different take on a conversation with a parent than the parent may think. I don’t pretend to know exactly why, but it’s not uncommon for the parents to tell someone evaluating their child or teenager something like,
“He’s a good kid and he helps others… sometimes he doesn’t pay attention to me and that gets frustrating, but he’s been doing better lately…”
And what makes it into the report that’s submitted to the prosecutor or the Judge is, “Parent says the child doesn’t pay attention to them and the parent is frustrated with the juvenile…”
I believe strongly that your juvenile needs a voice too. Maybe your juvenile didn’t do anything wrong at all. Maybe they made a a bad mistake or even hurt someone. Regardless, isn’t one of the worst lessons your teenager can take from dealing with the justice system is that authority figures can make-up the rules as they go along? How motivated will a teenager be to do better when they think authority figures will still treat them unfairly even when they do their best?
*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 is intended to be legal advice. For specific legal advice you should consult an attorney directly.