Dallas Juvenile Defense Lawyer

A minor facing criminal charges has a unique challenge in front of him or her. While criminal charges are always serious and life-affecting, they can be especially so for a young person whose future can be so negatively affected by a conviction. A juvenile conviction can put a young man or woman’s plans for the future into jeopardy. It can make it difficult to get a job, to get accepted into colleges, and can close the doors of opportunity that otherwise would have been open.

Dallas juvenile defense lawyer Mark T. Lassiter represents minors, college students, and other young adults who are facing the consequences of criminal charges. He has experience handling drug- and alcohol-related offenses, minor theft charges, and other misdemeanor matters.

While you may think that paying the fine for a crime will make it go away quicker, this is not the case. Paying a fine is an admission of guilt, and while it may seem like the best thing to do at the time, it may hurt you in the long run. An experienced Dallas criminal defense lawyer can help keep you from making these costly mistakes. To learn more about how a Dallas youth defense lawyer can help you, contact us today by calling [phone-number].

Dallas Youth Defense Practice Areas

Dallas juvenile defense lawyer Mark T. Lassiter has a long history of successfully defending young clients charged with a number of crimes, including:

In addition to his representation of young defendants, Mark Lassiter also handles expungement of past convictions and charges, further helping to clear the good names of young men and women.

Youth Crime Defense

While many people wrongly assume that youth convictions are written off as “youthful indiscretions,” this is not the case. As unfair as it may seem, such a conviction can close doors to those found guilty. Colleges can be harder to get into, and finding jobs can be more difficult. A person convicted of such crimes may find his or her life permanently, even irrevocably, changed.

That’s why it’s important to discuss your case with an experienced criminal defense attorney. A skilled attorney can work with you to secure a reduced sentence or even dropped charges.

Contact Us

If you or someone you love has been charged with a crime, Dallas youth defense attorney Mark T. Lassiter would like to help. Contact the [firm-name] today by calling [phone-number] to learn more about how we can help you.

Juvenile Defense FAQ

Will colleges ask about my child’s criminal record?

Universities throughout the country have the option of asking about misdemeanors, felonies, and other criminal charges. Many schools, including the more than 600 colleges that now use the “common application,” are choosing not to exercise this option to its fullest extent. These schools ask if an applicant has been found guilty of a misdemeanor or felony but soften the language. Other universities will only check the criminal record of an applicant after an initial admission decision has been made. Barring a crime of a violent or otherwise dangerous nature, the admission decision will be unaffected. If you are worried about your child’s criminal record affecting college admissions, research the specific universities and consider hiring an attorney to help you pursue other options. Such options include expunction or a nondisclosure order, which removes the possibility of a college becoming aware of a criminal record.

My charges were dismissed after completing a deferred adjudication agreement. Will colleges or employers have access to these records?

Deferred adjudication avoids serious legal consequences. For example, a drug conviction in Texas initiates a suspension of the driver’s license of the defendant. Under a deferred adjudication agreement, no conviction is ever recorded. Despite the advantages of the deferred adjudication program, it is public record. Even after probation is completed and the charges are dropped, the criminal justice system does not remove record of the deferred adjudication proceedings. The existence of the agreement, content of the agreement, and charges that prompted the agreement are all included in a routine background check. Depending on the state, your options include expunction and a nondisclosure order. Certain crimes do not qualify for expunction but may qualify for a nondisclosure agreement.

My child is being sent to juvenile criminal court. Are there differences between juvenile and adult criminal court?

There are stark differences between juvenile and adult criminal court in terms of punishment and procedure. In Texas, a “juvenile” is anyone between the ages of 10 and 17. The court emphasizes rehabilitation, accountability, and education. The criminal justice system has no desire to ruin a young person’s future, so they take concrete steps to avoid detrimentally impacting college and employment decisions. Many juvenile court charges are sealed or expunged.

How old does a defendant have to be in order to be tried as an adult?

Under Texas law, most defendants under the age of 17 will be tried in juvenile court. If the defendant is facing serious felony charges, however, and is at least 14, the court may choose to certify them as an adult and transfer their case to a regular court. Defendants who are exactly 17 years old will be tried as adults for most offenses but will be tried as children for delinquent conduct or “conduct indicating a need for supervision,” including school-related offenses, certain consensual sexual offenses, and some drug offenses. Defendants 18 and older will always be tried as adults, and those under 10 will not stand trial. Simply put, minors aged 10-16 are usually tried as children, and 17-year-olds will be tried as either a child or an adult depending on the severity of the charges.

What types of penalties can juveniles face if convicted?

In general, penalties in juvenile court tend to be less harsh than in adult court. In Texas, the most common penalty for juvenile offenses is probation. This process involves checking in with a probation officer, attending school, participating in certain programs, and maintaining good behavior. Other less serious penalties include fines and community service. For the most serious offenses, juvenile courts may sentence defendants for up to 40 years in prison. Any jail time will be served in a juvenile detention center as long as the person is a minor, after which they will move to an adult correctional facility. If a minor is tried as an adult, they will be subject to any sentences the court could impose on an adult, except that no one under 18 can be sentenced to death.

What are the responsibilities of a parent whose child is facing a juvenile trial?

A juvenile trial involves more than just the defendant. Texas law requires that parents or legal guardians attend their child’s hearings in juvenile court. Employers are legally barred from firing parents for taking off work to do so. If a child is sentenced to parole, their parents are expected to help them meet the conditions of their parole, such as meeting with an officer, attending required programs, and completing community service requirements. Juvenile courts may choose to make additional demands of parents, such as when and where to bring their child for hearings. Parents are legally required to do whatever the court orders them to do.

Confidential Free Case Evaluation