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June 02, 2005, 15:32
Stacey L. Brownlee
All of a sudden the streets of my county have become a drag strip (despite the fact that there are 2 legal drag stips within 5 minutes of downtown) and in the last month the local PD has filed 5+ Racing cases. Having not dealt with these before, please tell me if I am wrong here, but these cases should be filed like a misdemeanor adult case in County Court because the Family Code excludes traffic offenses from the jurisdiction of the Juvenile Court. My clerk's office is going to freak when I file these so I want to make sure I am right before I jump off in this.
June 03, 2005, 14:04
Daryl Eremin
Dawson's got a blurb (p. 42) about Reckless Driving and is of the opinion that a jailable traffic offense that is not excluded from the definintion of "traffic offense" under Fam 51.02(16) must remain in municipal or justice court and is punishable by the fine only.

The bill fixing this problem and subjecting all jailable traffic offenses to delinquency petitions is awaiting the Governor's signature.

I cannot find authority that would allow a county court to sentence someone under 17 to jail. Bummer!

[This message was edited by Daryl Eremin on 06-03-05 at .]
June 06, 2005, 09:28
Stacey L. Brownlee
I agree that jail is not an option regardless of what Court has jurisdiction.

The only reason I think County Court and not Muni Court is Dawson's section on Traffic Offenses (pg.41) specifically when he points to the wording of that 8.07 and then the last sentence under his section titled exclusive criminal jurisdiction where he says "giving exclusive jurisdiction over them to the criminal courts".
How then is jurisdiction proper in JP court if Racing is a class B or better (unlike Reckless which is a Class C offense). And then look at the wording under Trans. Code 729.003(g).

What do you think ?
June 06, 2005, 14:59
Kris Moore
I agree with Daryl - they have to be in JP or Municipal court.

Right now, there are only 4 Traffic Code offenses that the juvenile court has jurisdiction over and they are listed as exceptions to the definition of "traffic offense" in Sec. 51.02(16) of the Family code.

DRAG RACING/RECKLESS DRIVING is not included in the family code exceptions for "traffic offenses" and is not an offense that the juvenile court has jurisdiction over.

Chapter 729 of the Transportation Code contains provisions for the criminal prosecution for traffic offenses committed by persons under 17 and those must be prosecuted in Justice of the Peace or Municipal court because under the provisions of Chapter 729 they are fineable offenses (for those under 17)and the perpetrators cannot be locked up or imprisioned. Thus the County court has no jurisdiction as it would if the defendant was over 17.
June 06, 2005, 15:01
Kris Moore
I read over your response and maybe there is some confusion - JP court and Municipal courts ARE criminal courts with jurisdiction in this situation.
June 07, 2005, 13:08
Stacey L. Brownlee
I agree that Racing is a traffic offense and therefore is excluded from the juvi court jurisdiction.
I agree that the remedy can not be jail time regardless of what court has jurisdiction.
I agree that JP and Muni Courts are "criminal courts".

But I am confused as to how I convince the JP Court that it has juridiction over a Class B misdemeanor.

Racing carries a fine of up to $2000.00
Sec 29.003 Gov. Code gives muni courts jurisdiction for up to $500 and Art. 5 Sec. 19 of the Tx. Constitution gives JP Courts jurisdiction up to $200. Nothing I can find says that just because the crime is committed as a juvenile that the fine would be limited to $500 or $200 or that the jurisdiction must be only juvi court or JP/Muni court.

Am I missing a section somewhere ?
I don't mean to beat this dead horse but I am going to have to convince the powers that be here that they have jurisdiction Roll Eyes

This is not an issue in juvi Reckless Driving cases because the fine can not exceed $200.
June 08, 2005, 12:46
J Ansolabehere
Check out Burke v. State, 915 S.W.2d 551 (Tex.App.--Houston [14th Dist.] 1995, pet. ref'd). It dealt with whether the JP court or the County Court had jurisdiction over the offense of illegally passing a school bus (first offense) which, like the racing statute, has an odd fine structure. I don't know how the juvenile issue would change the outcome, but the court in the Burke case held that the JP and County Court had concurrent jurisdiction.

Janette Ansolabehere
June 16, 2005, 12:18
Kris Moore
The Burke case doesn't involve a juvenile and there is a question of jurisdiction for an adult there because of the amount of the fine.

With juveniles, my understanding has always been that ALL offenses in the Transportation code that involved juvenile-age defendants MUST BE handled according to the special provisions in the Transportation Code in Chapter 729 - Operation of Motor Vehicle By a Minor, UNLESS the juvenile had committed an offense that came under the exceptions to the "Traffic Code" definition in the Family Code in Sec. 51.02(16)that gave the juvenile court jurisdiction. (Currently; Driving with Invalid License and FSRA and Failure to Stop and Give Information - the 4 offenses listed). Therefore, since "Racing" is in Sec 545.420 of the Transportation Code, prosecuting a juvenile-age defendant under that statute would involve applying the provisions provided in Chapter 729. It is interesting, however, that reading Section 729.001, it says "violation of any traffic law of this state" ... and then goes on to list some specific sections covered and does not mention Sec. 545.

The good news is that all this will not continue to be a problem for much longer because the new law provides a change in the "Traffic Offense" definition in the Family code to give the juvenile court jurisdiction over all offenses "for which the person convicted may be sentenced to imprisonment or confinement in jail", so now if it is an offense for which an adult could go to jail - a juvenile-age defendant will appear for that offense in the juvenile court.
June 16, 2005, 16:13
Stacey L. Brownlee
when looking at the actual statutes I don't know why thats always been the "understanding". Maybe I'm just dense, but I don't see anything precluding filing in the county court or mandating that all juvenile traffic offenses be filed in JP/Muni court. Section 729 at one time said that juvi traffic offenses were Class C cases, but that was changed several legislative sessions ago.

I am so glad that this problem has been taken care of !!
June 23, 2005, 10:38
Stacey L. Brownlee
For finally pointing out the flaw in my racing thought process.
Art. V Section 19 does not limit the jurisdiction in JP courts for fine only criminal cases, only civil cases to $200.
My next project is going to be learning to read ! Razz