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Old 11-13-2008, 08:33 PM
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Default What is Determinate Sentencing?

Anybody got any insight on determinate sentencing?
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Old 11-13-2008, 08:36 PM
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From my understanding its basically where there's a set time to be locked up... not an earliest release to maximum... just a date and thats it
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Old 11-13-2008, 08:38 PM
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determinate usually refers to a juvenile conviction...a set amount of time they will serve in TYC if they age out (21) before sentence completion, they will be transferred to TDC until sentence time is done
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Old 11-13-2008, 11:06 PM
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I've only heard it referred in juvenile cases but here is what I found on a website for you to read:


"Determinate sentencing" for juvenile offenders was approved by the Texas legislature in 1987 as an alternative approach to lowering the age at which a juvenile may be certified to stand trial as an adult.
The original law provided that juveniles adjudicated for certain serious, violent offenses may receive a determinate sentence of as long as 30 years. The legislature cautiously selected only those Penal Code offenses against persons that would constitute capital or first degree felony offenses.
As the law originally was written, the first portion of the sentence was to be served in a Texas Youth Commission (TYC) facility. Prior to the youth's 18th birthday, a hearing would be held before the committing court to determine what would happen next for the youth.

There were three options. The first option was to be released on parole and continue under TYC's custody until age 21. The second option was for the youth to be discharged from TYC's jurisdiction. The third option was transfer to the Institutional Division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) for the balance of the sentence.

Subsequent Revisions

In 1995, the legislature added 11 offenses or categories of offenses eligible for a determinate sentence. Other amendments also specified that sentences could now range from a maximum of 10 years (for third-degree felonies) to a maximum of 40 years (for capital and first-degree felonies). Court hearings were eliminated for sentenced offenders unless TYC asked for:
  • Transfer of a youth to prison (between age 16 and 21); or
  • Release on parole before completion of the minimum length of confinement (which is ten years for a capital felony, three years for a first-degree felony, two years for a second-degree felony, and one year for a third-degree felony).
In 2001, two other offenses were added to those eligible for a determinate sentence. The list of offenses currently includes:
  • Murder
  • Attempted murder
  • Capital murder
  • Attempted capital murder
  • Manslaughter
  • Intoxication manslaughter
  • Aggravated kidnapping
  • Attempted aggravated kidnapping
  • Aggravated sexual assault
  • Sexual assault
  • Attempted sexual assault
  • Aggravated assault
  • Aggravated robbery
  • Attempted aggravated robbery
  • Felony injury to a child, elderly, or disabled person
  • Felony deadly conduct
  • Aggravated or first-degree controlled substance felony
  • Criminal solicitation of a capital or first-degree felony
  • Second-degree felony indecency with a child
  • Criminal solicitation of a minor
  • First degree felony arson
  • Habitual felony conduct (three consecutive felony adjudications)
In 2007, the law was changed again and sentenced offenders must be discharged from TYC supervision by their 19th birthday. If they have not completed their sentence prior to their 19th birthday or have not been transferred to TDCJ –ID by their 19th birthday, they are transferred to adult parole supervision to complete the remainder of their sentence.


The increase in the number of offenses for which youth can receive a determinate sentence resulted in an increase in the number of sentenced offenders that are committed to the Texas Youth Commission. Approximately seven percent of all youth committed to TYC have received a determinate sentence.
Their sentences are usually longer than those of youth with indeterminate sentences. These sentenced offenders occupy approximately 15% of the agency's beds in high restriction facilities.
To ensure that these cases receive the oversight and attention required, TYC established the Department of Sentenced Offender Disposition in July 1999. The Department represents TYC at transfer hearings, approves release proceedings, and coordinates youth movement between TYC and the TDCJ.

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Old 11-14-2008, 10:13 AM
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One more way to increase the number of incarcerated in TX.
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Old 11-15-2008, 11:48 AM
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ReggiesLady has it basically right. What happens on a juvi who has committed a crime eligible for determinative sentence is a multi step process. Most all crimes that can receive a determinative sentence are serious enough that the State will almost always consider certifying the juvi to stand trial as an adult.

If not certified, then the State has to determine if they will continue on with the case as a determinative sentencing case. If so the petition (in juvi court there are petitions to determine delinquent conduct not indictments) has to be presented to the grand jury. If the grand jury approves the petition then the case proceeds as a determinative sentencing case. That would mean upon adjudicating the juvi as having engaged in delinquent conduct (found him guilty) then the juvi can receive up to 40 years in prison.

Originally the juvi will be put in TYC. Upon the appropriate birthday (usually in the juvi's 18th year) then the juvi is transferred back to juvi court for a hearing. The court at that time can as Reggieslady stated: 1. release on parole and continue under TYC's custody until age 21; 2. the youth be discharged from TYC's jurisdiction; and 3. transfer to the Institutional Division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) for the balance of the sentence.

I believe many lawyers and families miss an opportunity with this transfer hearing as they are called. Any time you can get before a judge to attempt to free a juvi from incarceration, you have to take that opportunity. To many people just say it is a formality and a done deal before you get there. However I have saved some juvis significant time by presenting a compelling case that the juvi was rehabilitated by the TYC program and society had nothing further to gain by sending the juvi to TDCJ other than make the guy either a potential victim of much older predatory individuals or turn a juvi who had gotten on the right path to become a predator themselves in order to survive TDCJ. So don't pass up the hearing.

As you can see, there are many procedural issues as well as the general criminal law issues involved in one of these cases. Make sure you get an attorney with both substantial juvi experience and the criminal experience to handle such serious and difficult criminal trials.
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Old 11-16-2008, 01:19 PM
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Since this discussion has gotten into the juve realm I would like to ask a question. (I have been on the juvenile site but not gotten too many answers) Does anyone know, in Texas, what kind of sentence a 15 year old would be looking at for ag assault w/ deadly weapon? Also, how long before the actual adjudication? Thanks so much for any answers.

Last edited by becky58; 11-16-2008 at 01:34 PM..
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Old 11-16-2008, 05:39 PM
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We got into juvi realm on this thread because determinative sentences is solely a product of the juvi justice system.

Agg Assault with a deadly weapon is a determinative sentencing eligible offense. We would need to know if the State has proceeded to present a petition to the grand jury and pursue determinative sentencing to give you an accurate statement as to the possible punishments the juvi may be facing.

Regarding time to adjudication, there are to many factors that could not possibly be known by members of this forum, to give you an accurate estimate. The only thing I say with certainty is that the adjudication (without waiver) will be a minimum of 10 days after filing of the petition for delinquent conduct.
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