What Is Deferred Prosecution for Juveniles?

One very common outcome in juvenile cases is what is called “deferred prosecution” governed by Texas Family Code 53.03.  Deferred prosecution essentially dismisses the charges in exchange for serving probation.  When entering a deferred prosecution deal with the prosecutors, the juvenile doesn’t even have to admit guilt.  The case against the juvenile is paused while the juvenile attempts to complete probation.  If the juvenile successfully completes probation the case against them is dismissed.

The beauty of Deferred Prosecution is if the juvenile violates the terms – the case against them is merely unabated (or un-paused) and proceeds normally as if the deferred prosecution never happened.  This is different from deferred adjudication in the adult system where a violation would result only in increased punishment and the defendant wouldn’t have the ability to contest the original underlying case.

Another advantage the juvenile system has over the adult system is the juvenile has an absolute right under the family code to petition the Court for deferred prosecution over the objection of the prosecutor.  In the adult system the District Attorney’s office can and will arbitrarily bar otherwise good candidates from making a deal to clear their record.

Deferred prosecution for juvenile cases also shouldn’t be confused with the Collin County District Attorney’s deferred prosecution program.  That program is for adults typically charged with misdemeanor or low-grade felony cases and does require an admission of guilt in exchange for informal probation.

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