Defense structure, 2017

  • Organization


  • Oversight

    Partial oversight

Texas provides counsel to indigent youth through a county-based system that includes contract attorneys, assigned panel attorneys, and public defender offices.  Visit the National Juvenile Defender Center's Texas state profile for more details.

Waiver of counsel, 2014

A juvenile may waive his or her right to counsel as long as the waiver is made voluntarily and with the consult of an attorney. Right to representation must not be waived in a hearing regarding transfer to criminal court, an adjudication hearing, a dispositional hearing, or a hearing prior to commitment.

  • Restrictions on waivers
  • No restrictions
  • Reflects laws as of the end of 2013 legislative sessions.
  • Age

    No restrictions

  • Crime

    No restrictions

  • Hearing

    Juveniles cannot waive right to counsel for specified hearings.

  • Placement

    Juveniles cannot waive right to counsel if possibility of specified placement(s).

Timing of counsel, 2013

Texas statutes require juveniles to be represented at all critical stages of proceedings and includes policy concerning pre-filing appointment and youth not being able to afford counsel. Specifically, by statute, juvenile's statements are admissible in evidence in any future proceeding concerning the matter about which the statement was given if the statement shows that the juvenile previously received notice of the right to have an attorney present.  If the juvenile is unable to employ an attorney, the juvenile has the right to have an attorney appointed before or during any interviews with peace officers or attorneys representing the state.

  • Reflects laws as of the end of 2013 legislative sessions.

Indigency requirements, 2013

Indigency determination: Judicially

Texas juvenile indigency law is governed by both juvenile and adult statutes, which provide a determination of indigency and several useful definitions. The law applies to juveniles being transferred to criminal court. Under both the Texas Juvenile Justice Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure, special juvenile law education / training / experience/ program for appointed juvenile counsel. Indigency is judicially determined. Court can / must appoint attorney for juvenile if non-indigent parent refuses to pay for juvenile's attorney. Court can / must appoint attorney for juvenile if parent cannot be located / parent refuses to go to juvenile.

Collateral consequences, 2014

By statute, unless a contrary intent clearly appears elsewhere in this title, any right granted to a juvenile by this title or by the constitution or laws of Texas or the United States can be waived in proceedings under this title if (among other things) the juvenile and the attorney waiving the right are informed of and understand the right and the possible consequences of waiving it.

Also by statute, at the beginning of the adjudication hearing, the juvenile court judge must explain to the juvenile and his parent, guardian, or guardian ad litem the nature and possible consequences of the proceedings, including the law relating to the admissibility of the record of a juvenile court adjudication in a criminal proceeding.  

Additional requirements of juvenile probation staff to notify youth and provide information are extensive. 

  • Reflects laws as of the end of 2014 legislative sessions.

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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