To Parents/Conservators/Custodians/Guardians of a child facing prosecution:
Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions
Must my child be represented by an attorney?
When a Petition and/or Motion to Modify has been filed against your child, the law generally requires that the child be represented by an attorney. Thus, you must employ an attorney for the child. That attorney must be present at the time and date of the Appearance Hearing referenced in the Summons which was served upon you and your child along with the Petition and/or Motion.
What if I cannot afford an attorney?
If you are claiming indigence and an inability to employ an attorney for your child, you must appear in the Juvenile Court within five working days after the date the Petition/Motion was served on your child to show proof of your indigence. See Juvenile Court address and schedule below.
If you are seeking the appointment of an attorney for your child, any and all persons responsible for the support of that child and all adults living in the household must bring to court current year-to-date pay check stubs and the last three years’ tax returns and any and all written documentation to support the claim of indigency or disability.
Court address: 210 South Woodrow Lane, Denton, Texas 76205 Indigency Hearing Appearance times: Mondays - Thursdays at 1:30 PM and Mondays – Fridays at 9:00 AM.
Do I have to attend my child’s court date?
The short answer is: “if you live in Texas, yes.” Pursuant to §51.115 of the Texas Family Code (FC), each of you shall attend each hearing in your child’s case unless (1) the Court waives your appearance, or (2) you do not reside in Texas, or (3) you are a parent of the child but a managing conservator has been appointed for that child and you are not a conservator of that child.
Can the Juvenile Court Judge put me under any court orders?
Under § 54.041 of the Texas Family Code (FC), the Court can, upon a finding of delinquency or a finding of a child in need of supervision, enter orders that affect adults, including ordering them to do any act reasonable and necessary for the welfare of the child or to refrain from doing any act that is injurious to the welfare of the child. These orders can require an adult to make financial restitution for damages or injuries resulting from the child’s actions and an adult could be ordered to attend a class such as a G.E.D., E.S.L. or parenting skills course. Further, an adult can be ordered to pay the following fees: FC §54.061, probation fees; FC §54.0411, $20.00 as cost of court; a FC §54.046, a graffiti eradication fee; FC §54.06, a reasonable amount of child support if the child is placed outside the family home; and FC §51.10, the expenses of an attorney, even reimbursement for the cost of a court appointed attorney. These orders are enforceable by Civil Contempt proceedings, which could result in confinement in jail for a period not to exceed six (6) months and/or a fine up to five hundred dollars ($500.00).
Why won’t court staff discuss my child’s case over the phone?
Children’s cases in Juvenile Court are confidential. There is no way to guarantee over the phone that the person speaking has a right to the confidential information of a particular child. We would prefer, and are in fact required, to err on the side of caution to protect the rights of the child.
Why does my child’s attorney refuse to speak with me about my child’s case?
Family members, friends, and relatives of a child facing prosecution often experience frustration because the lawyer refuses to discuss with them the child’s pending case(s). This is often due to the lawyer’s ethical obligations to the client and the requirement that the attorney adhere to the lawyer/client privilege.
Often, an apparent conflict arises between the lawyer and the person or persons who are paying the attorney on behalf of the child. Sometimes, the person or persons who are paying the attorney believe they are entitled to receive any information from the attorney regarding a child’s case. This is often the situation in a juvenile case. Third parties must recognize that the lawyer’s duties regarding the privilege of confidential information is the same, whether the lawyer is “court-appointed’ or has been hired by friends or family. Even if the accused is a juvenile, the lawyer may not reveal confidential information to anyone, including the parents or guardians of the juvenile.
Under certain circumstances, an accused person may authorize his or her lawyer to discuss a case with third persons. Any such authorization will usually involve only unprivileged client information, and then only in the event of express authorization by the client.
Third persons must recognize that the attorney-client privilege may be waived, or even lost (an unintended consequence), if privileged communications are revealed or disclosed to others.
Another area of concern is friends or family members who call the attorney on the telephone with requests for information. Please recognize that the attorney often does not know the identity of the person or persons on the telephone. Most attorneys will simply refuse to discuss a client’s case over the telephone with persons the attorney does not know. Attorneys will often allow a family member to schedule an appointment to discuss, in general terms, a client’s case, if the client has given express authorization to do so.
Is there a dress code and behavior and safety code in your court?
Yes, the following rules apply:
Dress Code -- Everyone should be attired in a manner enhancing the dignity of the Court.
Except with prior permission of the Court, the Dress Code is as follows:
No hats/caps/other headwear
No tank tops
No bare mid-drifts
No sagging pants
No flip flops
No cameras and no video or audio recording devices are allowed in the courtroom.
No beverages, food, or gum in the courtroom.
Turn off all electronic devices and keep them turned off unless prior permission is given by the judge to use a particular electronic device.
Weapons – Weapons are not allowed unless you are visiting the court building in your official capacity and that official capacity requires/allows you to carry a weapon.
Can I just talk to the judge?
Generally all communications with the judge must be done in open court with all parties present. Please do not attempt to call the judge or contact her by e mail or other method of communication outside of court.
It may be possible to talk to the judge during her “open docket times, which are: Mondays - Thursdays at 1:00 PM and Mondays – Fridays at 9:00 AM.
Please contact the court administrator to make sure the judge will be in on the day that you are planning to attend the “open docket”.
Why can’t I look up my child’s case on-line or see a copy of the court’s docket?
Juvenile cases are confidential and on-line access and access to the entire docket would violate that confidentiality.