Prosecution of juvenile crimes in Victoria County is handled by all Assistant Criminal District Attorneys of the misdemeanor division. The ultimate objective in handling juvenile cases is the rehabilitation of the youth and assisting them in becoming law-abiding productive members of society. This objective is accomplished by coordinating with the Courts, the Juvenile Service Department and other local agencies to create a positive impact on Victoria's youth.
In Texas, a juvenile case is one in which the offender is between 10-16 years of age. Once a child reaches the age of 17, they are considered adults and fall under the jurisdiction of the adult criminal system.
In the most severe cases where the juvenile is at least fourteen years old, the State may petition the Court to certify the offender to stand trial as an adult. In such cases, the accused would face the same punishment as an adult offender, up to and including life in prison. Crimes committed by persons under the age of 17, however, are not eligible for the death penalty.
For other violent offenders and for habitual felony offenders, the State may seek a "determinate sentence." Under this sentencing scheme, for the more serious offenses, a juvenile could face up to a maximum of forty years confinement in the Texas Juvenile Justice Department (TJJD) with a possible transfer to the adult prison system prior to reaching age nineteen. Juvenile offenders who are transferred from TJJD to the adult prison system are required to serve the remainder of their sentence in adult prison.
For less serious offenses, a juvenile offender faces the possibility of being placed on probation or being committed to TJJD for an "indeterminate" period of time. These offenders cannot be transferred to the adult criminal justice system. If the offender receives an indeterminate commitment to TJJD, he or she must be discharged on or before reaching age nineteen. For an offender who receives probation, the term of probation must end on or before he or she reaches age eighteen.
During probation, a child may be required to perform community service, attend special classes, pay restitution, and regularly report to a juvenile probation officer. Failure to comply with the orders of the Juvenile Court and the rules of probation may result in the child's probation being modified. Such modifications often result in stricter supervision, including placement in specialized treatment facilities or commitment to TJJD.