17 Is An Adult In Texas, But Only When It Comes to Sex and Crime?
The "age of consent" in Texas is 17.
The definition of “Age of Consent” in Texas is when a person may legally consent to engage in sexual activity with another person. Texas Penal Code states that once a person becomes 17 years of age they are capable to give consent for sexual activity with another person.
17 is also the age that individuals are automatically charged as an adult for committing a crime.
Texas is one of only three states to automatically treat 17-year-olds as adults when they are arrested
But an individual is not considered legally an adult until they are 18 for other legal reasons, like the freedom to move out of their family home. To legally move out before without a parent's permission requires legal emancipation. Why is there this discrepancy?
Leaving "age of consent" in the none of my business pile, there is a big reason to be concerned about 17 being an adult, insofar as criminal charges go. It literally creates a hole that these individuals fall into, where they cannot receive the help or services they likely need.
Alycia Castillo, policy analyst for the Coalition, said in Texas, most 17-year-olds don't get rehabilitation services when they go into the adult system, because treatment can only be accessed by those 18 and older.
"So, we just have this huge gap," Castillo explained. "If you're a 17-year-old, and you are caught committing a crime, it's just a black hole of a lack of resources. But also, they're stuck with this adult record that follows them wherever they go."
When I was 17, I certainly felt like I was an adult. Now that I'm older, I can say definitively that I was not. I simply do not understand the rationale of charging 17-year-olds as adults, as it seems rather arbitrary to me. I would guess it's a relic from some "tough on crime" politician and not the result of rational thinking.
You have to be 18+ to take a minor to a movie. 18+ to sign up for the army. And you have to be 21 or older to make purchases of alcohol and cigarettes. Why can a person go to prison as an "adult" when they can't even buy tobacco products?
The Juvenile Justice Initiative is working on an initiative to "Raise the Age" to avoid 17-year-olds falling into criminal justice "cracks" .