It is common knowledge that children make mistakes frequently and often fail to recognize how certain decisions can affect their future. Juvenile delinquency is a significant issue that can become a vicious cycle for those found guilty. Children's mistakes can remain on their records and affect possible job opportunities in the future. According to the most recent data from the Texas Department of Public Safety, there were 3,572 juvenile arrests in 2014. In other words, thousands of children each year are facing possible fines, confinement, and a negative impact on their permanent records.
What Is the First Offender Program?
The First Offender Program is Texas law enforcement’s response to juvenile delinquency. Texas legislators and law enforcement officers recognize that a child’s lack of maturity and mental development can cause them to make a mistake that they do not fully comprehend as “wrong” at the time. The First Offender Program is a minor’s way to start over, even if he or she has committed a crime. Different geographic areas can have their own version of such a program. The program has certain requirements that must be completed, which will allow the child’s first offense to be removed from his or her record. These may include mandatory attendance at group meetings and/or appointments with a caseworker.
Not all children with convictions are eligible for the program. The minor must be between the age of 10 and 16 and be a first offender. Those who have committed Class A & B misdemeanors and state jail felonies may be eligible for the program. However, those who have charges that involved assaults, weapons, or sexual crimes resulting in the requirement to register as a sex offender do not qualify for the program.
Three Phases of Prevention
The First Offender Program is meant for those who have already committed a crime, but many Texas juvenile probation departments also offer prevention information and programs. According to professionals, there are three basic phases of prevention to help minors who pose a risk of committing a crime.
- Primary prevention is for those showing signs of possibly committing an offense. This is to keep them from breaking the law the first time.
- Secondary prevention attempts to help those who have already committed a crime but are in the early stages of developing a criminal record. Such offenders may have made a mistake, and this type of prevention is to keep them from continuing down that path.
- Tertiary prevention is the final type of prevention and it is meant to help those who have a significant number of serious offenses. These individuals will be involved in a form of rehabilitation for returning to normal society and life.
Call a Floresville Juvenile Criminal Defense Lawyer
The First Offender Program is a good option for minors who have committed a crime and know that such actions will not be a part of their life in the future. Whether your child is facing their first criminal charge or their tenth, a strong legal defense team is crucial for his or her case. Juvenile charges are typically made by an error of judgment, and it is important to portray that to the judge who has control over your child’s future. At BCP Criminal Defense Attorneys, our criminal defense lawyers have years of experience defending juveniles, and we will work tirelessly for your child. If your child is facing criminal charges, contact our Pleasanton juvenile criminal defense attorneys at 830-769-1010 for assistance.