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Juvenile Practice Is Not Child's Play: A Handbook for Attorneys Who Represent Juveniles in Texas

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 2002
47 pages
This handbook attempts to summarize concisely the important aspects of juvenile law in the State of Texas for a new practitioner and offer additional ideas and strategies to any juvenile defense attorney.
In response, in part, to overblown coverage of youth crime in the mass media, Texas has adopted harsher and stiffer sanctions for juvenile offenders. The result of which has been an increase in the placement of juvenile offenders within the Texas Youth Commission which incarcerates the most serious and/or chronic juvenile offenders, indigent juvenile offenders being poorly represented in court, and the lack of effectively assessing mental health problems and the treatment needs of juvenile offenders. This handbook was designed with the objective to help improve the representation of juveniles across the State by offering important information and approaches on Texas juvenile laws for attorneys who represent juveniles in the State. The handbook references those laws as of September 2002. Due the tremendous size of the State of Texas, the many counties that comprise the State, 254 counties, and the differences in their practices, attempts were made to obtain the input of lawyers, judges, probation officers, and other shareholders in the juvenile justice system from across the State. The handbook begins with a presentation of the top 10 things to keep in mind when representing a juvenile client and include things such as the client is the child, not the parents; juvenile court is not sandbox court; avoid confinement; build rapport with the client early; and be optimist, patient, and perseverant. It continues with information on the Fair Defense Act, the investigation, what practitioners need to know about their client, hearings, the disposition, and helpful resources. An appendix offers specifics on four landmark Supreme Court decisions.