Summer is almost here and soon your children will be out of school for a couple months. During this time, teenagers often spend hours of the day unsupervised. While many are capable of taking care of themselves while their parents are at work, it is important to make sure they don’t get up to any trouble that will follow them later in life. While we know that teenagers sometimes make mistakes and can learn from them, it is also important to talk to your older kids about how serious some consequences can be.

Additionally, teenagers are entitled to the same legal representation as adults. Having a criminal defense lawyer supporting your family as your teenager deals with criminal charges can be immensely relieving. We know you want what is best for your child, even when they may be facing daunting situations. Our team of experienced lawyers can walk by your side throughout the legal process and help aid in defending the charges.

Teen felonies are extremely serious. Only about two-thirds of all teen felonies are prosecuted in juvenile court. Depending on the circumstances surrounding a case, a prosecutor has the option of trying a teen as an adult in the regular court system. If tried as an adult, teens have a higher chance of receiving more severe punishments, including jail time. Whether or not a teen is tried as an adult will depend on their age, the type of crime they are being tried for, and past offenses.

If your teenager is facing serious consequences as the result of criminal charges, be sure to contact the Alex R. Hernandez Jr., Criminal Law Firm for legal aid. While we cannot guarantee outcomes, you can trust that we have a lot experience defending felony and misdemeanor charges and will fight with our clients’ best interests in mind.

Burglary, Larceny, And Theft

Burglary is a slippery slope, and the Texas state laws are not particularly forgiving for multiple offenses. Burglary refers to entering or trying to enter a building or vehicle illegally with the intent to commit a crime. Even if a person does not steal anything or does not even gain access to the building, they can be charged with burglary. Oftentimes, the third offense for burglary of a vehicle is a felony, and first offenses for burglary of homes or business can be charged as a felony and can result in up to twenty years in prison. Jail time is more likely for your teenager if they are prosecuted as an adult. If the teen is tried as a juvenile, they can face fines, court-appointed counseling, probation, and even detention in a juvenile detention center.

Drug Abuse

Nearly 20 percent of teenagers in Texas use marijuana regularly, and more types of drugs circulate around schools. In most cases, teens found possessing small amounts of drugs will be charged in the juvenile system for a misdemeanor. However, if a teen is caught with larger quantities of drugs, is caught selling drugs, or otherwise distributing them to other minors they could be charged more severely. Be sure to talk to your kids about the importance of not doing drugs and not holding or transporting drugs for their friends. Drug charges can follow teenagers for years to come, even if they are found in possession of drugs that are not theirs. A criminal defense lawyer, in this case, can help defend the teen against unnecessarily harsh or long-lasting consequences.

Teen DUI

It’s no secret that teenagers have a high-risk of being involved in motor vehicle accidents. Parents know this better than anyone when they find out how much it costs to insure a teen driver! Adding drugs or alcohol into the equation makes teen driving especially dangerous. Research has shown that 15 percent of teen drivers who were involved in fatal car crashes had a blood alcohol concentration above .08 percent – the legal limit that defines drunk driving.

However, minors are not subjected to the same blood alcohol concentration laws as those above the legal drinking age. Texas — and every other state — has a zero-tolerance policy for those under the age of 21. Teens who are caught driving with any measurable amount of alcohol in their systems can face consequences such as a suspended license, thousands of dollars in fines, felony charges, and years of probation. And that’s if they don’t get in an accident. Charges increase and minors can be tried as adults if they have repeat offenses or injured someone in the process.

Make sure you have open communication with your kids about alcohol use. We know parents don’t like to think about this, but help them understand the consequences of their actions so they don’t end up ruining their life or someone else’s’. Let them know that it is always better to call for a ride home and face your potential wrath rather than the wrath of the law, or that they can use taxi services like Uber or Lyft.

Sexting and “Revenge Porn”

In today’s world, it is very for technology and sexual activity to get mixed up. So much so, that many states are implementing laws to punish those who engage in activities like sexting, a common term for sending sexually explicit messages or photos to someone through cell phones or computers. Recent studies show that as many as 1-in-4 teens admit to sending or receiving sexts.

In most cases, no legal charges emerge from sexting. However, when charges do come up, the consequences can be severe. For example, if someone aged 18 or older receives sexually explicit images of a minor — even if they are both consenting — the older teen can be charged with possess of child pornography, a felony charge. Additionally, sending unsolicited sexts to a party can be considered harassment or stalking.

More concerningly is the intentional distribution of non-consensual sexually explicit material, more commonly known as “revenge porn.” This often happens when one person gains access to sexually explicit content involving another person and then distributes that material on social media or another electronic platform without the other’s consent. This can be done over social media, through texting/email, or by other electronic means. The motive behind this is usually to embarrass or harass the depicted persons in the sexually explicit material and can be charged with a felony. If the person in the sexual content is a minor, then the accused can be charged with distributing child pornography.

Teenagers, from time to time, make impulsive decisions. Unfortunately, with the speed at which information can travel on the internet, there is often times “no going back” once images or videos are shared online. Be sure to talk with your teenagers about the potential legal consequences of sharing sexually explicit material so they understand that one poor decision can follow them for life.

Think Of The Future – Call Your Criminal Defense Lawyer

As we mentioned above, minors are entitled to legal representation just like adults. If your teenager is facing criminal charges, be sure to take action quickly in order to give them the best possible future. While nothing is guaranteed, a good criminal defense lawyer can help mitigate charges and fight on behalf of your minor, especially if they are being tried as an adult. Get in touch today to get help with any criminal proceedings.