Juvenile Punishments – Learn How We Can Help

Texas has Progressive Sanction Guidelines for Juvenile Offenders. Probation Officers, Prosecutors, and Juvenile Judges follow these guidelines in determining what punishment a juvenile that has been found to have offended should receive. A typical first offense can be put through a diversion program. These provide consequences for juveniles without pushing them formally through the full juvenile justice system. Therefore, if successful, there is only a minimal impact on the juvenile’s record. Most other offenses result in probation. Juvenile probations vary in severity from mildly inconvenient to full house arrest. If a child is found to have committed a serious offense or to have repeatedly committed lesser offenses, it is likely the child will be removed from his or her home in the community. Juveniles are placed in boot-camps and locked facilities until they complete the rehabilitation programs offered by the facilities.

Below are the Progressive Sanction Guidelines for Juvenile Offenders as they are stated in the Texas Juvenile Justice Code.

CHAPTER 59. PROGRESSIVE SANCTIONS MODEL

Sec. 59.001. PURPOSES. The purposes of the progressive sanctions model are to:

(1) ensure that juvenile offenders face uniform and consistent consequences and punishments that correspond to the seriousness of each offender’s current offense, prior delinquent history, special treatment or training needs, and effectiveness of prior interventions;

(2) balance public protection and rehabilitation while holding juvenile offenders accountable;

(3) permit flexibility in the decisions made in relation to the juvenile offender to the extent allowed by law;

(4) consider the juvenile offender’s circumstances;

(5) recognize that departure of a disposition from this model is not necessarily undesirable and in some cases is highly desirable; and

(6) improve juvenile justice planning and resource allocation by ensuring uniform and consistent reporting of disposition decisions at all levels.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 262, Sec. 53, eff. Jan. 1, 1996. Amended by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 479, Sec. 3, eff. Sept. 1, 2003.

Sec. 59.002. SANCTION LEVEL ASSIGNMENT BY PROBATION DEPARTMENT

(a) The probation department may assign a sanction level of one to a child referred to the probation department under Section 53.012.

(b) The probation department may assign a sanction level of two to a child for whom deferred prosecution is authorized under Section 53.03.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 262, Sec. 53, eff. Jan. 1, 1996.

Sec. 59.003. SANCTION LEVEL ASSIGNMENT MODEL

(a) Subject to Subsection (e), after a child’s first commission of delinquent conduct or conduct indicating a need for supervision, the probation department or prosecuting attorney may, or the juvenile court may, in a disposition hearing under Section 54.04 or a modification hearing under Section 54.05, assign a child one of the following sanction levels according to the child’s conduct:

(1) for conduct indicating a need for supervision, other than conduct described in Section 51.03(b)(4) or (5) or a Class A or B misdemeanor, the sanction level is one;

(2) for conduct indicating a need for supervision under Section 51.03(b)(4) or (5) or a Class A or B misdemeanor, other than a misdemeanor involving the use or possession of a firearm, or for delinquent conduct under Section 51.03(a)(2), the sanction level is two;

(3) for a misdemeanor involving the use or possession of a firearm or for a state jail felony or a felony of the third degree, the sanction level is three;

(4) for a felony of the second degree, the sanction level is four;

(5) for a felony of the first degree, other than a felony involving the use of a deadly weapon or causing serious bodily injury, the sanction level is five;

(6) for a felony of the first degree involving the use of a deadly weapon or causing serious bodily injury, for an aggravated controlled substance felony, or for a capital felony, the sanction level is six; or

(7) for a felony of the first degree involving the use of a deadly weapon or causing serious bodily injury, for an aggravated controlled substance felony, or for a capital felony, if the petition has been approved by a grand jury under Section 53.045, or if a petition to transfer the child to criminal court has been filed under Section 54.02, the sanction level is seven.

(b) Subject to Subsection (e), if the child subsequently is found to have engaged in delinquent conduct in an adjudication hearing under Section 54.03 or a hearing to modify a disposition under Section 54.05 on two separate occasions and each involves a violation of a penal law of a classification that is less than the classification of the child’s previous conduct, the juvenile court may assign the child a sanction level that is one level higher than the previously assigned sanction level, unless the child’s previously assigned sanction level is six.

(c) Subject to Subsection (e), if the child’s subsequent commission of delinquent conduct or conduct indicating a need for supervision involves a violation of a penal law of a classification that is the same as or greater than the classification of the child’s previous conduct, the juvenile court may assign the child a sanction level authorized by law that is one level higher than the previously assigned sanction level.

(d) Subject to Subsection (e), if the child’s previously assigned sanction level is four or five and the child’s subsequent commission of delinquent conduct is of the grade of felony, the juvenile court may assign the child a sanction level that is one level higher than the previously assigned sanction level.

(e) The probation department may, in accordance with Section 54.05, request the extension of a period of probation specified under sanction levels one through five if the circumstances of the child warrant the extension.

(f) Before the court assigns the child a sanction level that involves the revocation of the child’s probation and the commitment of the child to the Texas Youth Commission, the court shall hold a hearing to modify the disposition as required by Section 54.05.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 262, Sec. 53, eff. Jan. 1, 1996. Amended by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1015, Sec. 19, eff. June 19, 1997; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1086, Sec. 22, eff. Sept. 1