Posted: Dec 4, 2012 6:32 PM
Updated: Dec 5, 2012 12:07 AM
HIDALGO COUNTY - A teenager will not spend any time behind bars for the sexual assault of two girls.
The 14-year-old's defense on Tuesday agreed to a sentence of 10 years probation. The teen admitted to assaulting a 10-year-old and an 8-year-old in Mercedes on August 12.
The plea agreement is part of a determinate sentence. Under the terms of the sentence, the teen will remain out of jail if he does not violate his probation.
The teenager will not have to register as a sex offender, but his record will not be sealed.
Prosecutors said trying the teen as an adult was not an option in this case.
An adult would have faced life in prison for the crimes. Children under the age 15, however, can't be tried as adults regardless of their crimes.
Judge Jesse Contreras said that is the reason the system allows for determinate sentencing.
Contreras said a child can be sentenced up to 40 years. Once convicted, the teens are sent to juvenile detention where they remain until they become adults. A judge then decides whether the convict is sent to prison for the remainder of the sentence.
Contreras said it's a way to make sure kids are rehabilitated, but also held accountable for serious felonies.
"People might say, 'oh this kid is getting away'. Not really. If he doesn't do it successfully ... the court will send him into the adult system," Contreras said.
In the sexual assault cases in Mercedes, the teenager's 10-year sentence was suspended. The judge opted for probation. The judge said the victims' families agreed to the suspended sentence.