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  • Writer's pictureBrian Foley

Montgomery County, Texas Marijuana Attorney - Can a 17 year old be charged as an adult?

Updated: Jul 10, 2023

Montgomery County, Texas Marijuana Attorney Brian Foley - Board Certified in Criminal Law

Can a 17 year old be charged as an adult?

The short answer is yes, a 17 year old can be charged as an adult in Texas. This is true even if they are still enrolled in high school.

Just because they were charged as an adult doesn't mean that they have to end up with a conviction on their record. This is where a good criminal defense attorney becomes vital to your child's future.

When it comes to criminal offenses committed by minors, the legal system takes a different approach to ensure justice is served while considering the age and developmental stage of the offender. In the state of Texas, the distinction between juvenile and adult criminal law is of significant importance. In this blog post, we will delve into the differences between these legal frameworks and explore whether a 17-year-old can be charged as an adult in Texas for marijuana possession under Section 481.121 of the Health and Safety Code.

Juvenile Criminal Law in Texas: The Texas juvenile justice system is designed to handle cases involving individuals under the age of 17. This system aims to rehabilitate young offenders rather than focusing solely on punishment. Juvenile law emphasizes the importance of providing guidance, support, and education to minors who engage in unlawful activities.

When a minor is accused of a crime, the case typically proceeds through the juvenile justice system. The process involves a hearing before a juvenile court judge rather than a trial by jury. The judge determines the appropriate course of action, which can include probation, counseling, community service, or placement in a juvenile correctional facility. The primary objective is to help the minor address their underlying issues, reduce the likelihood of recidivism, and facilitate their successful reintegration into society.

Adult Criminal Law in Texas: On the other hand, the adult criminal law system in Texas applies to individuals who are 17 years of age or older. Unlike the juvenile justice system, the adult system focuses more on punishment and deterrence rather than rehabilitation. Adults convicted of crimes face more severe consequences, including imprisonment, fines, and the establishment of a criminal record.

Charging Minors as Adults: Now, turning our attention to the question at hand, can a 17-year-old be charged as an adult in Texas for marijuana possession under Section 481.121 of the Health and Safety Code? The answer is yes. In Texas, 17-year-olds are considered adults in the criminal justice system, and they can be charged as such for various offenses, including drug possession.

Marijuana possession, even in small amounts, remains illegal in Texas. Despite the changes in the age of criminal responsibility, possession of marijuana can still result in criminal charges for a 17-year-old. The severity of the charges and potential consequences will depend on factors such as the quantity of marijuana involved, the presence of intent to distribute, and prior criminal history.

Montgomery County, Texas Marijuana Attorney - Can a 17 year old be charged as an adult? Yes.


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