The Juvenile Unit of the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s Office prosecutes crimes committed by juveniles that are ages 10 through 16. The Juvenile Unit has jurisdiction over certain offenses such as truancy and runaway, but the bulk of the Juvenile Unit’s work consists of prosecuting major crimes committed by juveniles in Tarrant County, including all felony offenses (up to and including capital murder), and all Class A and B misdemeanors.
The 323rd Judicial District Court is a Family Court that hears all juvenile cases in Tarrant County. The Juvenile Unit, the 323rd Judicial District Court, and Tarrant County Juvenile Services (known informally as Juvenile Probation) are all located in the Scott D. Moore Juvenile Justice Center, located just northeast of downtown Fort Worth. The Lynn W. Ross Juvenile Detention Center is also located on the same property.
The focus of the Juvenile Unit is on the protection of our community, in both the short and long term. The Juvenile Unit protects our community through the use of a number of tools that are designed to get the most violent youth off of the streets, while maintaining an emphasis on solutions designed to lead all of our youth down the path to becoming productive citizens, while maintaining public order and safety.
For certain first-time offenders, misdemeanor offenders, and other appropriate offenses, available tools include the use of short-term diversion programs like the Deferred Prosecution and Drug Court programs. For those offenders placed on probation rather than a diversion program, Juvenile Probation provides a broad range of local, community-based formal probation services, which provide supervision and services to at-risk youth in the youth’s home. |
If a youth on probation is in need of services outside of the home, short-term placements in boys and girls ranches, drug rehab facilities, and mental health facilities are also available. Most juvenile probations expire on or before the youth’s 18th birthday, although they can last up to 10 years under certain circumstances.
For more serious offenses and offenders, the available tools can include removal from a youth’s home and commitment to the Texas Juvenile Justice Department for periods that can last up until the youth’s 19th birthday. With permission from a Grand Jury, the period of confinement can last up to 40 years, including a possible transfer to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Finally, juveniles who commit felony offenses after a certain age can, with permission of the Juvenile Court, be tried as an adult in Criminal Court with sentences ranging up to life in prison. The death penalty and life without parole are not available for juvenile offenders, including those tried as an adult.
The Juvenile Unit of the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s Office is committed to the safety of our community and to the protection of all citizens of Tarrant County from juvenile crime.