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Juveniles and Criminal Culpability: A Research Guide

A guide to researching Texas and national "raise the age" law and legislation. Created by Shelby Sterling, Texas A&M University School of Law, for the Summer 2017 Texas Legal Research Practicum.

Topic Overview

This research guide addresses the issue of treating juveniles as adult criminals in the State of Texas. Since 1918, Texas has considered 17-year-old offenders to be adults—a view that remains today. As of June 2017, Texas remains as only one of six states that continue to consider 17-year-old offenders to be adults. The goal to raise the age in Texas for criminal culpability is well founded and continues to be fought for by many individuals and groups across the state. 


The fight to raise the age is layered and complex but is simultaneously simple in various ways. Lawmakers and activist groups have continued to fight to raise the age in Texas with strong arguments. Texas is supposed to be known as a national leader for juvenile justice reform, yet it falls short in aligning with federal laws and the trend across the nation. Texas juvenile justice laws fall within the Family Code, but also affect many other codes. Unfortunately, since Texas does not fall within the parameters of the federal law and there is an abundance of evidence supporting the argument to raise the age, Texas should amend all of the statutes involving juvenile offenders and the age of criminal culpability. This guide will introduce the governing statutes and provide additional materials that revolve around juvenile justice, the age of criminal culpability, and the reasons why Texas should align with federal laws, which have been recently discussed in the latest legislative sessions.