Texas Law And Juvenile Criminals - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

06/1/05 - Lufkin

Texas Law And Juvenile Criminals

by Stuart Burson

A nine year old girl in New York City is accused of stabbing and killing an eleven year old girl. It happened last weekend.

The little girl is believed to be the youngest person in New York State's history to be charged with manslaughter. The cause of the violence was apparently a fight over a ball.

Again, the girl will now face manslaughter charges, but the story would have been different if the incident took place here in Texas.

"Under ten... in Texas we consider those to be children that can not form the mental capacity to commit a crime. It would be looked at a child in need of supervision position instead of a juvenile delinquent." says County Court at Law 1 Judge Lisa Burkhalter.

In Texas, CPS would step in, looking to see if there's a history of family violence in the household, or if there were adult supervision issues. They would also examine the child's mental health.

For some people hearing this, a child going unpunished may not seem fair.

"You're knee jerk reaction is to be very angry and it's not fair and this child should be tried, but honestly I think our laws the way they stand in Texas are pretty good laws. I think we do need to protect our children and we do need to provide them with supervision." says Judge Burkhalter.

What would make a young child commit such a violent act?

"While I can't say the rate of divorce or broken homes contributes to causing delinquent crime problems, it certainly can be a factor." says County Court at Law 2 Judge Barry Bryan.

Psychologists say some kids have a problem with impulse control. There is also concern about what children are being exposed to these days.

"Lot's of kids, especially if they're exposed to violence, whether it's on video games, or TV or movies... you watch a movie you see somebody die, the next time you watch it that person is alive again. Or you see another program and that person's there. And so kids don't have a really good concept of what death is." says psychologist Dr. Sid Epperson.

Judge Burkhalter says, even though young children can not be tried for a crime in Texas, parents can still face civil liability for what their kids do.

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