Juvenile Sex Offense Sentencing

Legal Guidance for Children in Plano Fighting Criminal Charges

Once a minor has been adjudicated delinquent on a sex offense, a judge will hold a hearing to determine the young person’s sentence. As an attorney experienced in defending against both adult and juvenile sex offenses, Paul Stuckle can advocate for children in Plano and other cities throughout the region during this phase of the case. Mr. Stuckle and his legal team are passionately devoted to representing young people who have been accused of these serious crimes.

Sentencing Options for Minors Convicted of Sex Offenses

While minors can generally be charged with the same offenses as adults, the sentencing options for juvenile court judges provide much more of a rehabilitative second chance for children than the criminal justice system does for adults. Juvenile sex offense sentencing has two components: the actual sentence and the question of whether the youth must register as a sex offender. A child can serve one of three possible types of sentences. He or she can be placed on probation, can receive an indeterminate sentence, or can receive a determinate sentence.

If a young person is placed on probation, he or she can usually serve that probation at home and outside a Texas Juvenile Justice Department (TJJD) facility. The probation conditions vary based on the specific needs of the juvenile offender. Requirements can include mandated therapy and counseling, community service, and a daily curfew. Probation lasts for an unspecified period of time, but it usually ends when the judge, advised by the juvenile probation officer, feels that the young person has met all the requirements of his or her probation. However, a child cannot be placed on probation past his or her 18th birthday.

A minor could also be sent to a TJJD facility for an unspecified amount of time. This is called an indeterminate sentence. Although it is indefinite, an indeterminate sentence lasts a minimum of nine to 24 months, and it cannot extend past an offender’s 19th birthday. The actual length of the sentence will depend on the judge’s opinion of the progress made by the child while serving his or her sentence.

Lastly, a young person could receive a determinate sentence, which is the most severe disposition. Here, a judge specifies a certain length for the child’s sentence, which depends on the severity of the offense. Children who are convicted of sex crimes could be sentenced to up to 40 years in prison for first-degree felonies, up to 20 years for second-degree felonies, and a maximum of 10 years for third-degree felonies. If a minor receives a determinate sentence that extends past his or her 19th birthday, he or she is transferred to adult prison or parole upon reaching 19 years of age.

Potential Registration

The second component of sentencing deals with the sex offender registry. A child may be required to register whether he or she is on probation or serving an indeterminate or determinate sentence. However, being adjudicated as having committed a sex offense does not automatically require registration.

If a judge believes that making a juvenile register will do more harm to the child than good in protecting society, the child will not have to register. A judge can also choose to defer adjudication and registration until the minor has completed sex offender treatment. After the child has completed this program, the judge will hold a hearing to make a decision regarding whether he or she must register. However, if a judge has ordered a deferred adjudication for a minor, the judge can direct that person to register in the interim.

A judge can also require a child to register in a non-public manner. The Texas Juvenile Code allows sex offenders who are minors to register on a list that is available to law enforcement, criminal justice agencies, and public and private schools, but not to the general public. Lastly, a child could also be ordered to register as would any adult offender, making his or her picture, name, and address available to the public. Juvenile offenders ordered to register in any form usually only have to do so for 10 years.

Consult a Dallas Attorney When Facing Prosecution

Sentencing for juvenile sex offenses is highly discretionary, and the range of outcomes can vary dramatically. With decades of experience in the Dallas region, Paul Stuckle is a criminal defense lawyer who works diligently to protect the rights of his clients. Stuckle & Associates, PLLC has helped young people charged with sex offenses in cities such as Plano, Arlington, Fort Worth, McKinney, and other communities throughout Denton, Collin, Dallas, and Tarrant Counties. Call us at (972) 423-4405 or complete our contact form for a free consultation.