Welcome to the Montgomery County Juvenile Probation Department's Probation Section. Below is information regarding the Juvenile Justice System and The Montgomery County Juvenile Probation Department.
Juvenile Justice System
MCJPD strives to assist the Juvenile Court in fulfilling its mission, to assure public safety through supervision, maintain the integrity of the law, and holding juveniles accountable for their actions while assisting them in developing pro-social changes in their behavior.
MCJPD works with a network of associates. These associates could include: police, guardians, CPS, casa advocates, attorneys, mental health physicians, counselors, extended family, etc. Each associate collaborates to assist with the child’s best interest. Guardians are an important resource in achieving that goal. Guardians encourage success by listening to their child and the professionals, providing a stable family environment, actualizing the family moral principles, and conveying a nurturing attachment with a balance of discipline and security,
When the child is suspected of taking part in a criminal act, law enforcement will take action to protect the public or the child. The case is referred to MCJPD or directly to the prosecutor for review.
A child is taken into custody by law enforcement, directed to the detention facility and juvenile staff assess if the child is a risk to the community or their selves. Within two business days, the child must appear for a detention hearing where the court decides if the juvenile should be detained or released pending their next court hearing. Juveniles do not have the option to bond out of detention. Release from detention must be ordered by the Juvenile Judge, this includes administrative releases.
The official complaint issued by a law enforcement agent who believes an offense has been committed.
All juveniles with alleged delinquent offenses are fingerprinted (Form CR-43J) and entered into The Department of Public Services records. Their non-public criminal history may then be accessed by law enforcement and juvenile justice agencies throughout Texas.
- Paper Referral vs. Formal Referral:
- A Paper Referral (PA) is a written complaint/charge from law enforcement that a juvenile committed an offense and the juvenile is not physically present at the time the juvenile department receives the complaint. Paper Referrals are usually infractions in which the situation did not amount to any immediate community danger. The police leave the child in the community; and submit the complaint/charge at a later date
- A Formal Referral (FM) is a complaint/charge that is submitted the same day the juvenile department meets with the child face to face regarding the alleged complaint.
Law enforcement initiates a case after they have investigated an incident, and if sufficient evidence exists, the case is forwarded to the Juvenile Department or directly to the prosecutor for review.
A case can be handled informally which does not require any action from the court. If an informal agreement is not an option, and the county attorney’s office has determined the case warrants prosecution, the juvenile prosecutor will validate a petition.
A Petition / Motion –legal document that informs the juvenile of the offense they are alleged to have committed and provides the date, time, and place of any future court dates. The juvenile must be provided a copy of this document and almost always is delivered with the summons.
Once a petition is filed, the juvenile must be provided with an opportunity to retain an attorney to represent them. If they qualify for an appointed attorney, The Public Defenders assigned to the case.
The case is scheduled for an adjudication hearing and the child and their guardian will be served with a summons to appear at the hearing. At the adjudication hearing, the judge (or jury) determines if the child is true of the alleged offense and then a disposition hearing takes place.
The Disposition hearing is not required to occur the same day of the adjudication hearing. A disposition imposes a sentence for the juvenile’s behavior. The child could be:
Placed on probation; Placed on probation outside the home with other guardians or placed at a residential facility; Committed to the Texas Juvenile Justice Department
A deferred agreement is an agreement made between the juvenile department and the child. A deferred does not include a separate parent agreement but a petition could still be pending. Deferred prosecution is an alternative to formal adjudication and essentially a six-month period of voluntary probation. If the child violates the agreement, the prosecutor may proceed with the adjudication. The juvenile prosecutor must consent to any deferred prosecution disposition for any child accused of committing a felony offense.
Probation is intended for offenders whose rehabilitation can be better achieved by community care than by imprisonment. Juveniles are able to remain in their homes, schools, and it is the least disruptive course of action. The court-ordered rules demand school attendance, good conduct, curfews, and participation in specified programs, including community service and financial restitution. JPOs enforce probation conditions while they help the child and family achieve positive change. The development of pro-social conversion should reduce their risk of re-offending.
Intensive Probation (ISP):
Intensive probation requires highest levels supervision, which closely monitors the juvenile while in the community. Violent offenders, mental health, gang members, habitual offenders, and sex offenders are typically supervised at this level. Frequent unannounced home visits, surveillance, and the use of electronic monitoring are key elements of this type of probation.
Some children must be removed from their homes due to uncontrolled behavior, drug addiction, mental illness, or an inadequate home environment. Children are removed from their homes only as a last resort to protect the public, provide needed supervision and treatment, and prevent future lawless conduct.
Parents are expected to participate in the probation program. They are the source of social, emotional, and financial support, and the key to a successful probation outcome. Family counseling, parent training, and support groups help meet the challenge of raising troubled adolescents.
Supervisory caution is a disposition in which the department refers the child and family to needed social services and the county attorney did not file paperwork on behalf of the pending referral.
Deferred prosecution is a 3-6 month period of voluntary probation that is entered into by the child and his/her parents. If the child successfully completes a deferred agreement and a petition was filed for the pending offense, a Dismissal Request will need to be submitted to the County Attorney.
A child may be placed on probation for any term not to exceed the child's 18th birthday. The court may, before the probationary period ends, extend the probation until the child's 18th birthday. The Family Code provides that the court may place a child on probation in the child's own home / in the custody of a relative or other fit person, in a suitable foster home, or in a suitable public or private institution or agency.
Residential Treatment (Placement)
A child may be removed from the home and placed at a facility to treat or manage problem behavior and prepare juveniles for a healthier, more productive life. Placement can be ordered through the court or parents can place the child with the assistance/support of the Juvenile Dept. The child’s stay could be as short as a few days or as long as several months. The different types of residential treatment include mental health, sex offender, alcohol and drug. Most court ordered placements require time for aftercare (aftercare is the time the department works with the juvenile and family upon their release from placement; ideally should be at least 90 days).
Texas Juvenile Justice Department (TJJD)
A child may be committed to the care, control, and custody of TJJD if the child is adjudicated for a felony offense. All commitments to TJJD, except under the Determinate Sentencing Act, are for an indeterminate term not to exceed the child's 19th birthday.
Texas Juvenile Justice Department (TJJD) Determinate Sentencing
If a prosecutor chooses to invoke the option of determinate sentencing, the grand jury must approve the petition charging the juvenile with the offense. If the court or jury finds at the conclusion of an adjudication hearing that the child committed one of the specified offenses, the child may be committed to the TJJD, with a possible transfer to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for up to 40 years, depending on the offense.
Certification as an Adult
For many serious or chronic felony offenders, certification as an adult may be the most appropriate option. If a child is certified to stand trial as an adult, the child faces the same range of punishment that an adult would face for the same crime, except that a juvenile cannot receive the death penalty for an offense committed before turning 17 years of age. A child who was 14 at the time of the commission of the offense may be certified for capital felonies, aggravated controlled substance felonies, or first-degree felonies. For all other felonies, the child must have been 15 years of age at the time of the commission of the offense.