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When Can Texas Courts Require Probation for My Child?

In Texas, many juvenile offenses can lead a judge to place a child on probation. The actual terms of probation will vary depending on the nature of the offense, any prior delinquency record, and the suitability of the child’s home environment. Probation orders typically require the child to attend school, abide by a certain curfew, and perform mandatory community service. In some cases, a teenager’s driver’s license may also be suspended if the offense involved intoxication or a controlled substance.

“Invasive Visual Recording” Leads to 1-Year of Probation for Teenager

Teenagers are subject to the same criminal laws as adults, even if their cases are heard within the juvenile court system. It is therefore important for parents to understand that when their child “acts out,” they can be charged with a crime if it violates the law. The fact that someone is under the age of 18 and may not be aware that certain conduct is illegal is not a defense.

Consider this recent juvenile case from Fort Worth. The female teenage defendant here was charged with violating Section 21.15 of the Texas Penal Code. This section makes it a state jail felony for anyone to photograph, videotape, record, or transmit a “visual image of an intimate area of another person in a bathroom or changing room.” In other words, it is against the law to take voyeuristic picks of someone else without their permission.

The defendant admitted to using her cellphone to record an image of another girl in a bathroom or dressing room without consent. Accordingly, the Court found her delinquent and sentenced to her one year of probation. The defendant then appealed that decision, arguing the criminal ban itself violated her free speech rights under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

The Texas Second District Court of Appeals did not accept this argument. Although the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals did hold in a 2014 case that another part of Section 21.15 was unconstitutional–because it broadly prohibited taking photographs or recordings in public–the specific ban on recording such images in bathrooms and dressing rooms was “narrowly drawn” to protect the “privacy interests” of individuals. Since the law was therefore “not overbroad,” the Second District upheld the juvenile’s conviction and probation.

Has Your Child Been Accused of a Crime?

Making an “invasive visual recording” may not sound like the most heinous of crimes. But a conviction can still label your child as a delinquent and negatively impact their future. This is why you should contact an experienced Texas criminal defense attorney whenever your child is arrested for any offense. Contact the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates today in Houston, Galveston, or League City if you need immediate legal assistance.