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When a juvenile has been accused of an offense but has never before been in trouble, they may be eligible for Tarrant County’s Juvenile Deferred Prosecution Probation program. This program is an alternative to seeking a formal adjudication of delinquent conduct or conduct in need of supervision.
Tarrant County’s Juvenile DPP program is a form of informal probation that addresses an offense outside of a courtroom and gives the juvenile a chance to prove it was a one-time offense through a supervision program. If completed, the offense is dismissed, and there is no juvenile record. Texas law allows prosecutors to place any child aged 10 to 16 on deferred prosecution in any case, except for some alcohol-related offenses.
A juvenile record can wreak havoc on your child’s life, and the childhood blemish could continue to cause problems into adulthood, including school admissions and employment.
An experienced juvenile defense attorney can ensure your child has the best options available and work to get them into deferred prosecution probation. Varghese Summersett’s Lisa Herrick is one of only three Board Certified juvenile attorneys in Tarrant County, and she is here to fight for your child.
The juvenile is supervised by a probation officer and has conditions they must abide by during the program, but the juvenile is not serving formal probation. The conditions, however, are similar to normal probation, which includes attending school, remaining offense-free, and obeying parental curfews. Some cases include counseling or restitution. If the juvenile is successful in the program, the case is closed, no charges will be filed, and no adjudication will appear on their record.
When a juvenile joins the program, the prosecution against them stops. No guilty plea is required to be accepted for the program.
Texas Family Code limits deferred prosecution probation to no longer than a year. Typically, Tarrant County DPP cases last from three to six months, but the program can be extended for up to six additional months.
The Juvenile Deferred Prosecution Probation program in Tarrant County can be offered at various points in the process. The four primary moments when the program is offered are:
During intake: The intake probation officer can offer the program to eligible juveniles during the intake appointment. If accepted, the supervision begins, and the case won’t be sent to the prosecutor.
From the prosecutor: After a case is referred to the district attorney, the DA can decide to offer the program. If accepted, the case is returned to the juvenile probation department, and supervision begins.
From the prosecutor after the case is filed: The prosecutor can decide to offer the program after filing the case but before it goes to court. In this instance, the charges are dismissed, and program supervision begins.
In court: This only happens if the probation officer and prosecutor refuse to offer the program. Before evidence is heard in court, the juvenile and their attorney can request the program from the judge. It’s up to the judge’s discretion to offer the program or not.
Charges are usually not filed in a juvenile case involving Deferred Prosecution Probation. If the program is agreed upon after charges have been filed, the charges are dismissed after the juvenile successfully completes the program.
The Texas Juvenile Justice Code provides that at the discretion of the juvenile court, the prosecuting attorney, or the juvenile probation department, restitution to the victim or community service restitution may be required “appropriate to the nature and degree of harm caused and according to the child’s ability.”
Under Section 53.03(d) of the Texas Family Code, the juvenile board may adopt a fee schedule of up to $15 monthly for deferred prosecution services. The board can waive the fee for deferred prosecution under the financial hardship guidelines that the Texas Juvenile Justice Department provides.
If a youth in the deferred prosecution probation program violates the terms of their supervision, the case could be reopened and reviewed. If the prosecutor originally offered DPP, they can file charges and send the case to court. If the probation officer originally offered DPP, the case will be sent to the prosecutor, who can either file charges or offer a second DPP term. If the case does reach court after a violation, the judge can offer a second DPP term.
If your child is facing a first offense in Tarrant County, the Deferred Prosecution Probation program is a potential option. This could be a monumental moment for your child’s future. Varghese Summersett juvenile attorney Lisa Herrick will help navigate your family through the process. Call us for a free consultation at 817-203-2220.