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Purpose clauses, 2016

  • No clause

  • Parens patriae

  • Due process era

  • Balanced and Restorative Justice (BARJ)

  • Developmental Approach

Texas’ purpose clause includes language from the Legislative Guide for Drafting Family and Juvenile Court Acts (1969) and other influences of the due process era. It mentions promoting the concept of punishment for criminal acts in accordance with providing for protection of the public and public safety, and to provide treatment, training, and rehabilitation that emphasizes the accountability and responsibility of both the parent and the child for the child's conduct.

3 TX ST §51.01

Intake and diversion, 2016

Initial intake and court diversion decision is at the discretion of the prosecutor or the juvenile court intake officer, divided by offense.

In Texas, statute permits local rule development, so practice varies among jurisdictions within these parameters. Statute grants law enforcement discretion to divert some matters to local juvenile-board first offender programs and to other agencies. Once a child is taken into custody, a referral must be made to the prosecutor (DA) related to capital crimes and murderous allegations or to either the DA or the court intake officer (JPO) as designated by the local Juvenile board. When a child is brought before the court or delivered to a court-approved detention facility, the court-designated JPO may authorize temporary placement or release the child with or without written conditions. When conditions are attached, they must be filed with the court, but a formal petition is not always necessary when the child is released home (as when parent/s agree to be subject to juvenile court jurisdiction and promise to bring the child before the court). If continued detention is ordered, a petition must be filed.

Other complaints of delinquency are screened by an intake official designated by the juvenile board (can be a court, executive branch, or contracted employee) (JPO) who determines legal sufficiency and conducts a preliminary investigation. The JPO has the statutory ability to make the decision whether to pursue non-judicial handling, which can include deferred prosecution for up to 6 months for many situations. Certain serious/repeat intoxication-fueled offenses are excluded from diversion. When the youth has a prior felonious adjudication or current allegations are felonious, violent misdemeanors, or involve certain weapons, DA’s must consent to deferred prosecution.  The DA may grant decision-making to JPO for those more serious categories (by local agreement), but JPO’s generally submit preliminary information to the DA with recommendations on further court involvement. When the DA decides not to pursue prosecution, the DA must refer the case back to JPO for diversion. The JPO negotiates conditions of release and/or deferred prosecution, which can include self-responsibility, empathy classes for victims, removing or painting over graffiti, drug and alcohol education, and fees, etc. If the child fails to participate in the designated diversion program, the JPO refers the matter back to the DA who may file the petition for formal judicial involvement.

Once the petition is filed, the judge can continue deferred prosecution for up to a year (the year includes prior time deferred) and may set conditions other than detention with consent of the child and parent. Upon successful completion of terms and conditions, the petition is dismissed.

Statutory time limits for pre- & post-petition court diversions exist.

In Texas, statute permits local variations, but deferred prosecution terms can initially go for up to 6 months and can be continued by the judge for up to one year (total).  

Courtroom shackling, 2015

No statewide restriction

Competency, 2015

Texas has a statutory subchapter related to juvenile competency, which aligns with the Dusky standard. Children involved with the court for delinquency or conduct indicating a need for supervision, who are “unfit to proceed as a result of mental illness or intellectual disability” are not subject to discretionary transfer, adjudication, disposition (or modification of disposition) as long as incapacity endures. Statutory procedures include criteria for examination disposition selection, and restoration.

  • No juvenile standard

  • Juvenile standard is the adult standard

  • Juvenile justice standard exists

  • JJ standard includes developmental immaturity

Sex offender registration, 2015


About this project

Juvenile Justice GPS (Geography, Policy, Practice, Statistics) is a project to develop a repository providing state policy makers and system stakeholders with a clear understanding of the juvenile justice landscape in the states.

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