Violent juvenile crimes in Texas are on the rise, and in Tarrant County, that’s especially true with homicides. In fact, homicides increased 80 percent from 2020 to 2021, the most recent year statistics were available. This increase in violent juvenile offenses has led to a need for experienced, highly-skilled juvenile defense attorneys.
Fortunately, the law firm of Varghese Summersett has one of the best violent juvenile crimes attorneys in Texas. Lisa Herrick is Board Certified in Juvenile Law – a designation held by only 65 attorneys in the state and three in Tarrant County. She is widely considered to be the area’s foremost expert in defending juveniles accused of violent crimes.
If your child is between the ages of 10 and 16 and has been accused of a violent offense in Fort Worth, Arlington, or the surrounding area, it is imperative to contact an attorney specializing in juvenile law. In this article, we will discuss Tarrant County’s increase in violent juvenile crime and why Lisa is the go-to attorney for serious juvenile felony cases, including murder and capital murder. Please be sure to watch all of Lisa’s informative videos on this webpage.
What violent juvenile crimes have increased in Tarrant County?
In Tarrant County, 473 juveniles were taken into custody last year for violent juvenile offenses, including homicide, sexual assault, robbery, and aggravated assault, according to the 2021 Tarrant County Juvenile Services annual report. This is a 19.7 percent increase from the year before, when 395 juveniles were referred to the county’s juvenile services department for violent offenses.
- Homicide: In 2021, 18 juveniles were accused of homicide in Tarrant County, compared to 10 juveniles the year before. That’s an 80 percent increase in one year and more than a 100 percent increase from five years prior. In 2017, five juveniles were accused of homicide in Tarrant County.
- Sexual Assault: In 2021, 124 juveniles were accused of sexual assault in Tarrant County – a 93.8 percent increase from the year before when 64 juveniles were accused of sexual assault.
- Robbery: In 2021, 91 juveniles were referred to juvenile authorities for robbery, slightly up from 86 the year before.
- Aggravated Assault: In 2021, 236 juveniles were referred to Tarrant County’s juvenile services department for aggravated robbery, slightly up from 233 the year before.
What should you do if your child has been accused of a violent juvenile offense?
If your child has been accused of a violent juvenile offense in Tarrant County, one of the first things you should do is contact an experienced juvenile defense attorney. The consequences of a violent juvenile crime can be life-altering, and it is imperative to have an attorney who specializes in this area of law, practices daily in juvenile court, and knows the process and the players. Things move fast in the juvenile system, and you need an attorney who will hit the ground running immediately.
What happens to a minor who has been accused of a violent juvenile crime in Tarrant County?
If your child has been taken into custody for a violent juvenile offense in Tarrant County, he or she will be taken to the Tarrant County Juvenile Detention Center in Fort Worth. The juvenile will have a detention hearing within two business days after admission. At this hearing, the judge will decide whether to continue detaining the youth or whether the youth can go home while the case is pending.
After the juvenile detention hearing, the next steps in the process depend on whether the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office is seeking to prosecute the child as a juvenile or as an adult. Below is a brief description of certain aspects of the process that may occur after a violent juvenile offense accusation. It’s important to understand that these are basic descriptions of steps in the procees if a minor has been accused of a violent offense.
For more information, please contact Lisa Herrick, an experienced violent juvenile crimes attorney who has handled hundreds of juvenile cases and knows the system inside and out.
- Juvenile Detention Hearing. Unlike the adult system, juveniles do not get “bonded out” of jail. Whether a juvenile is released from detention and under what conditions is decided by a judge after a detention hearing. Watch this video by Lisa to learn more about juvenile detention hearings:
- Juvenile Certification. If a juvenile is accused of a violent offense, such as murder or sexual assault, prosecutors can seek to certify the juvenile to stand trial as an adult. If the judge agrees, the case will be transferred to the adult criminal justice system for prosecution. If that occurs, the minor will be subject to the adult criminal justice process and the penalties associated with that offense (except capital murder and sex offender registration). If prosecutors do not seek certification or the judge declines to grant certification, the case will remain in juvenile court. In 2021, 13 juveniles – out of 33 – were certified to stand trial as an adult in Tarrant County. Watch Lisa’s video to learn more about juvenile certification:
The Adjudication Hearing (Trial). If the juvenile remains in juvenile court, he or she will have an adjudication hearing – basically a trial – in which a judge or jury will determine whether they are “delinquent” or “not delinquent.” When a juvenile has been adjudicated “delinquent,” a judge or jury has found the criminal allegations true – this is equivalent to a conviction or “guilty” verdict in adult court. If the youth has been found “not delinquent” after a trial, it means the allegations have been found not true by a jury or judge – this is the equivalent of an acquittal or “not guilty” in adult court. If the charges are found not true, the case will be dismissed.
Disposition Hearing (Sentencing). If a juvenile has been adjudicated “delinquent,” a disposition (or sentencing) hearing will occur, and the judge will decide the appropriate punishment. This could include probation, placement out of the home, or commitment to the Texas Juvenile Justice Department (TJJD), which is juvenile prison.A commitment to TJJD can be for a determinate or indeterminate amount of time, depending on the severity of the case. Determinate sentences are reserved for more serious felonies and give the court the option of extending a punishment beyond a youth’s 18th birthday. If prosecutors seek a determinate sentence, it must first be approved by a grand jury. Watch Lisa’s video to learn more about juvenile punishment and determinate and indeterminate sentences:
We have touched briefly on various steps in the process if your child is accused of a violent juvenile offense in Tarrant County. But again, this is just a general overview – and we know it can be confusing. That’s why it is imperative to seek the guidance of an experienced juvenile attorney who can thoroughly explain the process and give you specific advice on the best way to defend your child going forward.
What is the most serious crime for which a juvenile can be charged?
The most serious crime for which a juvenile can be changed in Texas is capital murder. However, the juvenile punishment for capital murder is not the same as in the adult system, where the punishment is life in prison without parole or the death penalty. Watch this video by Lisa to learn more about the difference between capital murder in the juvenile and adult criminal justice systems:
What kinds of violent juvenile crimes has Lisa handled?
Lisa has handled just about every type of violent juvenile crime – first as a prosecutor and now as a highly-regarded juvenile defense attorney. Lisa was a prosecutor in Tarrant County’s juvenile division before going into private practice as a defense attorney. She knows how prosecutors think and what they look for when trying to build a case against a juvenile. This makes her an invaluable asset to have on your side if your child is accused of any violent juvenile crime, including.
- Capital Murder
- Attempted Murder
- Intoxication Manslaughter
- Criminally Negligent Homicide
- Aggravated Sexual Assault
- Sexual Assault
- Aggravated Assault
- Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon
- Aggravated Robbery
- Aggravated Kidnapping
- Gun and Weapons Possession
Child accused of violent juvenile crime in Tarrant County? Call Lisa.
Lisa appears in Tarrant County juvenile court daily and has the experience and expertise to defend serious criminal allegations, from sexual assault to murder. She is highly skilled in juvenile certification and determinate sentencing hearings, which are common in violent juvenile crime cases.
If your child is accused of a violent juvenile offense, life is about to change dramatically. You need an experienced violent juvenile crime attorney who will g guide you through this difficult process and fight to protect their future. Contact Lisa today at 817-203-2220 for a free consultation. Time is of the essence.