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When Can Juveniles Be Tried As Adults?

Moving Up to Adult Court

Like most states, Texas tries people who commit crimes either as a juvenile or as an adult. Under Texas law, a juvenile is defined as a minor between the ages of 10 and 17; however, a juvenile can still be tried as an adult under certain circumstances.

Here is what you should know regarding trying a juvenile as an adult.

Judicial Waiver

If a juvenile commits a felony offense, a judge can transfer their case to an adult court through what is known as a judicial waiver. In order for a case to go to adult court, two conditions must be met according to Texas law:

  • There must be probable cause that the child committed the offense. While probable cause is necessary to bring charges against someone, transferring a case through judicial waiver means there is a high likelihood that the juvenile would be convicted of the charges.

  • The nature of the crime committed requires that the case be handled in adult court. This requirement could also be satisfied if the child has a history of violence.

To put it simply, a juvenile must be highly likely to have committed the crime and the case must imply that the child has a nature that will not respond to normal methods of criminal rehabilitation.

Age of Waiver

In order for a judge to consider a juvenile waiver in a case, the minor that committed the crime must be at least 14 years old in addition to meeting the offense criteria according to Texas law. Once a juvenile has entered the adult court system, they will remain there if they commit another offense unless they have been acquitted of the charges, the case is dismissed, or an appeal is filed and successful.

Protecting Your Child’s Rights

Unfortunately, it is far too common in Texas for juveniles to be tried as adults, meaning their rights are in danger far before they reach a mature age. If your child has committed a crime and is transferred to adult court under a juvenile waiver, it’s important to seek a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to protect your child’s rights.


At Cofer & Connelly, PLLC, our team is committed to defending the rights of our clients, no matter how old they may be. To learn more about our criminal defense services or to speak with an attorney about your case, call us at (512) 991-0576 or visit us online.

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