The Court Unit is responsible for preparing the necessary documents to process a child through the court system. The juvenile probation officers in the court unit work with families, judges, defense attorneys, school officials, prosecutors, and other agencies in providing much of the preliminary material for juvenile court hearings.
Petition & Interview
When a petition is formally filed by the District Attorney’s office, a juvenile probation officer schedules a meeting with the family and the child to gather information for preparing social history report for the court. In the interview, the juvenile probation officer seeks to determine the family’s strengths, weaknesses, and needs, as well as the family’s perspective about the child’s behavior, emotional status, home life, educational history and other relevant issues.
Records are obtained to aid the court in making a proper disposition in the child’s case, Such records include:
birth certificate of the child
family financial status information
social security card
The social history report prepared by the Juvenile Probation Department is independent of any position or opinion from the child’s defense attorney, parent, prosecutor, or other individual or agency.
Attorney Representation & Hearing Agreement
Each child presented to the court must be represented by an attorney (Section 51.10, Texas Family Code). The family is required to hire an attorney to represent their child or make application to the court for a court-appointed attorney. When an announcement hearing is set the prosecutors and defense attorneys review the case, including recommendations made by the Juvenile Probation Department. If an agreement is reached, a hearing may be set for an agreed adjudication.
When an agreement cannot be reached a contested adjudication hearing may be set either to go before the juvenile court judge or a jury. If at the adjudication hearing the court finds the alleged conduct to be true, a disposition hearing will follow. During the disposition hearing the court reviews the detailed written report (social history) and the disposition recommendation prepared by the Court Unit. The juvenile court also considers disposition recommendations from the State and the child's defense attorney, and may consider any other documentation the court is permitted to review in determining the disposition of the child's case(s).
When a child receives a disposition that requires supervision, the child is assigned to a juvenile probation officer in the Field Services unit. The juvenile probation officer will begin to work with the child and family toward a successful completion of the term of supervision.