Common Terms


The following are common terms used when dealing with juvenile cases.

Adjudication Hearing

- A hearing where the judge or jury determines whether the juvenile committed the alleged offense or is innocent of the charge.

Defense Attorney

– A lawyer who represents the juvenile and makes sure that the juvenile’s rights are protected. The Juvenile Court must appoint an attorney to represent juveniles if the court finds that they cannot afford to hire an attorney.

Discretionary Transfer Hearing

– A hearing where the judge decides whether to transfer the juvenile’s case to a criminal court, where the juvenile will be prosecuted as an adult.

Disposition Hearing

- A separate hearing that occurs after the adjudication hearing, when the final decision or result of the juvenile’s case is determined by the judge or jury, and where the juvenile may be placed on probation or committed to the Texas Youth Commission.

Modification Hearing

- A hearing to change the previous conditions of the juvenile’s probation or to revoke probation when the juvenile is accused of violating the conditions of probation.

Petition / Motion

– A written legal document filed by the prosecutor that informs you and the juvenile of the offense the juvenile is alleged to have committed and provides the date, time, and place of any future court dates. You and the juvenile must be given a copy of this document.


– A lawyer who works for county or district offices (county attorney, assistant county attorney, district attorney, or assistant district attorney) and who handles juvenile cases.

Texas Youth Commission

– A state agency that operates secure correctional facilities for juveniles committed there by the Juvenile Court.