Violent juvenile gets stringent punishment

This past week saw stringent outcomes for two aggressive juvenile offenders. Both juvenile offenders are in their late teens and the circumstances of each offense necessitated a severe punishment for one offender and a transfer to adult court for the other offender, according to Brian Middleton, Fort Bend County District Attorney.

On October 6, 2020, a 17 year-old Rosenberg juvenile was sentenced by County Court at Law No. 5 Presiding Judge Teana V. Watson to a 25-year determinate sentence. The juvenile offender was prosecuted for the offense of Aggravated Sexual Assault. The offense occurred in June of 2019 when he was 16 years-old.

According to lead prosecutor Michael Hanson, the juvenile lured a female victim to an overgrown brushy area in the vicinity of an old golfing range in Rosenberg. The juvenile offender held a knife to his victim’s neck while he sexually assaulted her. The juvenile offender then strangled his victim until she lost consciousness. The Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner who treated the victim’s injuries testified that the victim’s injuries were among the worst strangulation injuries that she had observed in her career.

Under Texas juvenile determinate sentencing law, the maximum punishment for the offense of aggravated sexual assault is forty years. The juvenile offender’s “determinate sentence” will commence at a detention center designed for juveniles which is operated by the Texas Juvenile Justice Department (”TJJD”). Under Texas law, TJJD may return the juvenile offender to the juvenile court prior to his 19th birthday for the court to consider his release on parole or his transfer to an adult prison operated by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

“This offense was an egregious violation of the victim’s safety and a serious risk to her life,” said Hanson. “The sentence reflects the malevolent nature of the offense and provides a sense of closure and justice for the victim.”

When juvenile offenders are charged with certain offenses, the Texas Juvenile Justice Code authorizes the State to request the juvenile court to transfer the prosecution from the juvenile court to an adult court. In order to certify a juvenile to stand trial as an adult, a juvenile court must find (1) there was probable cause that the crime was committed, and (2) that because of the seriousness of the offense alleged or the background of the child, the welfare of the community requires criminal proceedings and warrant his removal to the adult criminal justice system.

Juvenile

On October 2nd, 16 year-old Joseph Anthony Alfred, Jr., was certified to stand trial as an adult on two counts of Robbery which were allegedly committed in January 2020 at a Family Dollar store Rosenberg, Texas. (Once certified, the confidentiality that applied to the juvenile’s proceeding was lifted.) The certification hearing was conducted in County Court at Law No. 4, sitting as a juvenile court, before Presiding Judge Toni M. Wallace.

Once certified as an adult, the juvenile was entitled to be released on bond pending trial. Bear in mind that Texas law and the United States Constitution provide that all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty and are entitled to be released from custody, pending trial, on reasonable bail.

Robbery, in Mr. Alfred’s case, is a second-degree felony punishable from 2 to 20 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.

“It is distressing to request a juvenile court to waive jurisdiction and prosecute a juvenile as an adult,” stated Chief Juvenile Prosecutor Tyra McCollum. “This is why the process is reserved for only the most egregious offenses and habitual offenders. This is one of those circumstances when it was required to ensure the safety and protection of the community.”

Middleton stated, “Texas law requires the juvenile justice system to balance the objective of progressive sanctions for juvenile offenders and the protection of the community. In these cases, the seriousness of the offenses justified the magnitude of the punishment assessed by the juvenile court and the transfer of Mr. Alfred’s case to the adult court.”

Assistant District Attorneys Tyra McCollum, Melanie Rozbicki, and Michael Hanson prosecuted the cases.