Hello again, and today, I wanted to talk to you about another issue that can be fought in post-conviction relief: juvenile certifications.
Suppose someone has been tragically sentenced to a lifetime or a very long period of time in prison when that person was actually just a child. That person was 16 years old or 15 years old, was certified as an adult, and then subsequently went to trial or was entered into a plea bargain. This might be your situation or the situation of your loved one, and you may have given up hope. However, your fight for freedom isn’t over yet.
Recently there’s been a lot of emerging case law on juvenile certifications. The court of criminal appeals in Texas has decided that the trial court judge in the juvenile case has to go through a test to evaluate the seriousness of the offense, the potential for rehabilitation of the juvenile, and the programs and opportunities available that the juvenile could take part in to potentially be rehabilitated before they can transfer the case from being a juvenile case to an adult case.
A lot of times in cases that we review, we see that a very basic juvenile certification hearing is held where a probation officer is called and the probation officer just gets on the stand and says, “Oh yes, this is a case we recommend for certification because it’s a serious offense.” They give no more evidence or reason than this. This tends to happen particularly in a capital murder case, murder case, or a sexual assault case. A lot of times they look to certify just based on what they consider to be the seriousness of the offense.
This is just one of the several factors that have to be weighed by the courts. The trial court has to make a reasoned determination based upon those factors and has to weigh those factors to consider whether or not the child should be certified as an adult. A lot of times the trial courts go through a very perfunctory, very simple process where they say “This is a serious crime, so I’m going to remind you to stand trial as an adult.” This is an important emerging issue.
There’s actually a case pending in the court of criminal appeals that we are waiting to see the result of because that case will affect potentially the way that juvenile certification cases are handled in the future because it’s a case about whether or not the certification change in this evaluation of certifications is a new law or not. This could define the future of Juvenile Certifications, and possibly the future of your case too.
About The Attorney
Jacob Blizzard is board certified in both criminal law and criminal appellate law.
He regularly practices in the areas of state and federal criminal defense, criminal appeals, post conviction writs of habeas corpus.
In Texas, there are more than 100,000 attorneys licensed to practice, but only 7,450 are board certified.
In the entire State of Texas, as of the 2019 certification year, there were only 87 attorneys board certified in both criminal law and criminal appellate law, making Mr. Blizzard one of 0.087% of attorneys in Texas to hold both of those certifications.