If your child is charged at age 17, then he or she is considered an adult under Texas law and is prosecuted in criminal court. Texas is one of only 12 states which prosecutes offenders under the age of 18 as adults. As a result, many teenagers plead guilty to criminal charges for time served just to get out of jail or to avoid being on probation. At ages 17, almost all lack the maturity and understanding of the lifelong consequences of a theft conviction. They are only thinking of the short term benefits of either getting out of jail immediately or avoiding a six to twelve month probation. Many are represented by overworked and underpaid court-appointed attorneys who may not be willing or able to dissuade the teenager from making a poor decision that will impact him or her for the rest of his life.
Each year, hundreds of people contact Attorney James Sullivan in order to get their theft convictions expunged from their record because they cannot get a job but unfortunately a criminal theft conviction cannot be expunged or sealed (non-disclosed). Young adults especially may not know about or consider the far-reaching effects of having a theft conviction on their record.
Juvenile misdemeanor theft convictions can be sealed two years after the end of probation or age 19, whichever comes first. Felony theft convictions can be sealed at age 19. In both instances, the person must stay out of trouble because a criminal conviction at age 17 or later prevent the records from being sealed. Of course, a criminal conviction is worse because it is a public record that is easily accessible on-line or at the courthouse.
Attorney James Sullivan can discuss with you the possible options in order to later get your juvenile or criminal theft case record sealed or expunged.