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  • Writer's pictureBrian Foley

Houston Criminal Defense Lawyer - Texas Penal Code 8.07. AGE AFFECTING CRIMINAL RESPONSIBILITY

Houston Criminal Defense Lawyer - Texas Penal Code 8.07. AGE AFFECTING CRIMINAL RESPONSIBILITY




Howdy everyone, I'm Brian Foley from Houston Criminal Defense Attorneys. Today, we're delving into the intricacies of Texas Penal Code 8.07, which deals with age affecting criminal responsibility. Essentially, we're exploring whether individuals can be prosecuted for offenses committed as minors and the complexities surrounding that.


To begin with, let's establish some foundational truths known to defense attorneys. While I'll provide a general overview, keep in mind that there are exceptions to these rules. If you strictly adhere to them, you might find yourself mistaken in a small percentage of cases. Nonetheless, here's the gist:

If you're under 10 years old, there's typically no criminal prosecution. Exceptions exist, which we'll touch on shortly, but in 99% of cases, those under 10 are exempt from criminal responsibility.

Between the ages of 10 and 17, matters are usually handled under the Family Code rather than the Penal Code. This entails a civil process rather than a criminal one, focusing on rehabilitation and probation. However, exceptions exist, such as certain serious offenses.

Individuals within this age range can be certified as adults, which is a concept we'll explore further. Once you hit 17, you're subject to regular adult criminal prosecution. This distinction is essential, especially for those wondering why their 17-year-old might face adult charges.

Now, let's dissect Section 8.07 of the Texas Penal Code, which revolves around age affecting criminal responsibility. It stipulates that individuals under 15 years old generally can't be prosecuted for offenses, with some exceptions.

For instance, if someone commits perjury or certain traffic violations, they could face prosecution even under 15. Additionally, misdemeanors punishable by fines only fall under this exception.

Moving on, if a person aged 14 or older commits certain serious offenses, they could still face prosecution, including capital felonies, with certification as an adult being a possibility.

Certification as an adult involves a transfer to criminal court, which requires careful consideration of various factors by the juvenile court.

Furthermore, individuals aged 17 or under are not subject to the death penalty for offenses committed, aligning with Supreme Court rulings.

Notwithstanding the general age bracket, individuals under 10 are typically exempt from prosecution, and there's a presumption that those aged 10 to 15 are incapable of certain offenses. However, this presumption can be refuted based on evidence of the individual's capacity to understand the wrongdoing.

In summary, if you're seeking a basic understanding: refrain from prosecuting those under 10, consider juvenile cases for those between 10 and 17, and recognize 17 and up as subject to regular adult criminal prosecution.

So, in Texas, it's crucial to grasp the nuances of age affecting criminal responsibility, guiding how individuals are prosecuted and treated within the legal system. Thanks for joining me on this exploration of Texas Penal Code 8.07.


Sec. 8.07. AGE AFFECTING CRIMINAL RESPONSIBILITY. (a) A person may not be prosecuted for or convicted of any offense that the person committed when younger than 15 years of age except:


(1) perjury and aggravated perjury when it appears by proof that the person had sufficient discretion to understand the nature and obligation of an oath;

(2) a violation of a penal statute cognizable under Chapter 729, Transportation Code, except for conduct for which the person convicted may be sentenced to imprisonment or confinement in jail;

(3) a violation of a motor vehicle traffic ordinance of an incorporated city or town in this state;

(4) a misdemeanor punishable by fine only;

(5) a violation of a penal ordinance of a political subdivision;

(6) a violation of a penal statute that is, or is a lesser included offense of, a capital felony, an aggravated controlled substance felony, or a felony of the first degree for which the person is transferred to the court under Section 54.02, Family Code, for prosecution if the person committed the offense when 14 years of age or older; or

(7) a capital felony or an offense under Section 19.02 for which the person is transferred to the court under Section 54.02(j)(2)(A), Family Code.

(b) Unless the juvenile court waives jurisdiction under Section 54.02, Family Code, and certifies the individual for criminal prosecution or the juvenile court has previously waived jurisdiction under that section and certified the individual for criminal prosecution, a person may not be prosecuted for or convicted of any offense committed before reaching 17 years of age except an offense described by Subsections (a)(1)-(5).

(c) No person may, in any case, be punished by death for an offense committed while the person was younger than 18 years.

(d) Notwithstanding Subsection (a), a person may not be prosecuted for or convicted of an offense described by Subsection (a)(4) or (5) that the person committed when younger than 10 years of age.

(e) A person who is at least 10 years of age but younger than 15 years of age is presumed incapable of committing an offense described by Subsection (a)(4) or (5). This presumption may be refuted if the prosecution proves to the court by a preponderance of the evidence that the actor had sufficient capacity to understand that the conduct engaged in was wrong at the time the conduct was engaged in. The prosecution is not required to prove that the actor at the time of engaging in the conduct knew that the act was a criminal offense or knew the legal consequences of the offense.

Acts 1973, 63rd Leg., p. 883, ch. 399, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1974. Amended by Acts 1975, 64th Leg., p. 2158, ch. 693, Sec. 24, eff. Sept. 1, 1975; Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 1040, Sec. 26, eff. Sept. 1, 1987; Acts 1989, 71st Leg., ch. 1245, Sec. 3, eff. Sept. 1, 1989; Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., ch. 169, Sec. 3, eff. Sept. 1, 1991; Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 900, Sec. 1.01, eff. Sept. 1, 1994. Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 262, Sec. 77, eff. Jan. 1, 1996; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 165, Sec. 30.236, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 822, Sec. 4, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1086, Sec. 42, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1297, Sec. 68, eff. Sept. 1, 2001; Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 283, Sec. 52, eff. Sept. 1, 2003.

Amended by:

Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 787 (S.B. 60), Sec. 2, eff. September 1, 2005.

Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 949 (H.B. 1575), Sec. 45, eff. September 1, 2005.

Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 311 (H.B. 558), Sec. 5, eff. September 1, 2009.

Acts 2013, 83rd Leg., R.S., Ch. 1407 (S.B. 393), Sec. 17, eff. September 1, 2013.

Acts 2023, 88th Leg., R.S., Ch. 425 (H.B. 1819), Sec. 7, eff. September 1, 2023.

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