Publication : Brochures
The Maryland State Bar Association’s Public
Awareness Committee has prepared this information. It is intended to inform
the public and not serve as legal advice.
What is Juvenile Court?
In Maryland, a child under the age of 18 is considered
a juvenile. Since state law requires that a juvenile who commits a crime
be treated differently than an adult, juvenile cases are handled in the Juvenile
What Kinds of Cases Go to Juvenile Court?
Delinquency – A
child is delinquent if he or she commits a crime. Some children may be treated
as adults in Circuit Court rather than Juvenile Court, depending upon the
severity of the crime, the child’s age, his or her prior juvenile record,
their mental and physical condition and other factors.
Child in Need of Assistance (CINA) -
A child is in need of assistance if he or she has been physically, sexually
or emotionally abused or neglected by a parent or other person who is responsible
for the child’s care.
Child in Need of Supervision (CINS) – A
child is in need of supervision if he or she has committed a crime applicable
only to children, such as truancy, violation of curfew laws, running away,
habitual disobedience and ungovernable behavior.
Termination of Parental Rights and Adoptions – If
the Juvenile Court has already found a child to be CINA or CINS, and the
Department of Social Services (DSS) has located an adoptive family for the
child, the Juvenile Court will handle the case to terminate the natural parent’s
rights and allow for the child’s adoption.
Citations – When
a juvenile violates Maryland’s alcoholics beverage laws, by possessing
alcohol, misrepresenting his or her age to purchase alcohol or drinking or
possessing intoxicating beverages on school premises, the juvenile receives
a citation requiring them to appear in Juvenile Court.
Contributing – An
adult, who contributes, encourages or causes a child to be delinquent, CINA
or CINS may be charged with the crime of contributing in Juvenile Court.
Interstate Compact – The
Juvenile Court handles cases of children who run away across state lines.
The Interstate Compact on Juveniles governs these cases.
Compulsory Public School Attendance – The
Juvenile Court may handle cases arising under Maryland’s Compulsory
Public School Attendance laws.
Are All Juvenile Cases Sent to Juvenile Court?
No. Intake officers at Maryland’s Department
of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) review most juvenile cases before deciding which
ones to send to Juvenile Court. After reviewing a case and offering the child
and his family to discuss it, the intake officer may close the case, send
the child to a diversion program for treatment and guidance or refer the
case to the State’s Attorney’s office for formal charges in Juvenile
Court. Very serious cases involving a child 14 years of age or older bypass
the intake officer and the Juvenile Court and go directly to the Circuit
Court where the juvenile is charged as an adult.
Are All Cases Involving Abused or Neglected Children
Sent to Juvenile Court?
No. Reports of child abuse and neglect are sent
to the local Department of Social Services (DSS) for further investigation.
If DSS is unable to prevent the placement of children outside the home or
is unsuccessful in its efforts to work with families to prevent abuse and
neglect, DSS may start a CINA case by filing a CINA petition in the Juvenile
What Happens in Juvenile Court?
In Juvenile Court, depending upon the practices
of the different localities in Maryland, cases are handled by a judge or
by a master.
Emergency Detention or Shelter
In emergency cases where the child’s well-being
may be threatened or the child is considered dangerous, the first step is
a detention or shelter care hearing. The judge or master may place the child
in a children’s detention center or temporary foster care home for
a period of up to 30 days before the child’s adjudicatory hearing.
At the preliminary hearing, the judge or master
tells the child and his or her parents what the charges are by giving them
a petition listing the charges. The judge or master also determines whether
they have an attorney. At each stage of the case, the child/and or their
parents have the right to an attorney.
An adjudicatory hearing is the trial on the charges.
Each side, the State’s Attorney in a delinquency case or DSS in a CINA
or CINS case and the child and parents may present evidence such as witness
testimony or documents. After hearing the evidence, the judge or master decides
if the charges are proved. There are no juries in Juvenile Court. Adjudicatory
hearings must take place within 60 days of the date the petition was given
to the child and their parents.
A disposition hearing occurs after the adjudicatory
hearing if the charges are proved. At the disposition hearing, the judge
or master determine what type of treatment or rehabilitation plan would best
serve the child. The judge or master could place the child on probation or
under the supervision while living at home or remove the child from home
to a children’s detention center or foster care home. Parents may also
be ordered to participate in a treatment plan.
A review hearing is held several months after
the disposition hearing to determine if the treatment plan should be modified
A restitution hearing is a separate hearing held
in delinquency cases after the adjudicatory and disposition hearings. If
the State’s Attorney can prove that as a result of a child’s
crime, the victim incurred counseling, medical, dental, hospital or funeral
expenses or the victim’s personal property was stolen, damaged or destroyed,
the judge or master may order payment of restitution in an amount not to
exceed $10,000. Payment of restitution may be a part of a child’s probation.
Juvenile Court © 1986,
MSBA, Inc. Revised 1998
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