What Is Deferred Prosecution for Juveniles?
Texas Family Code 53.03 governs “deferred prosecution”. It is a very common outcome in juvenile cases. 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 juvenile is attempting to complete probation while the case against them is paused. The court will dismiss the case against the juvenile if they successfully complete probation.
The beauty of Deferred Prosecution is if the juvenile violates the terms the case against them is merely unabated (or un-paused). It proceeds normally as if the deferred prosecution never happened. This is different from deferred adjudication in the adult system. 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.
The Collin County District Attorney’s deferred prosecution program shouldn’t be confused with deferred prosecution for juvenile cases. That program is for adults typically charged with a misdemeanor or low-grade felony cases. It does require an admission of guilt in exchange for informal probation.