What is Juvenile Court?

In Maryland any person under the age of 18 is considered a juvenile. Because State Law dictates that a juvenile who commits a delinquent act is treated differently than an adult, juvenile cases are heard in the Juvenile Court System.

What cases are heard in Juvenile Court?

The most common types of juvenile cases are:

  • Delinquency: A child is delinquent if the child commits an act which would be a crime if the child were 18 years old and the child requires guidance, treatment or rehabilitation.
  • Child in Need of Assistance: These cases involve a child who has been physically, sexually or emotionally abused or neglected by a person responsible for the child’s care.
  • Child in Need of Supervision: These cases involve a child who has committed an offense such as truancy, violations of curfew laws, running away from home and habitual disobedient behavior.

Are all Juvenile offenses sent to Juvenile Court?

Most juvenile cases are initially processed by the local Juvenile Services Agency. An intake officer will decide whether to close a case, supervise a juvenile offender or forward the matter to the State’s Attorney’s Office for review and filing in the Circuit Court if warranted.

What takes place in Juvenile Court?

The first action in Juvenile Court is usually a Hearing on Counsel. At this hearing, a child and his/her parents appear before a Master (Judge) and are advised of the allegations in the petition and his/her rights to an attorney.  If the juvenile is not detained or placed in shelter care, the adjudication hearing must take place within 60 days of the date the petition was served on the child.

The adjudication hearing is the equivalent to a trial by a judge in the adult court system. If the child is found to be delinquent, the Master will hold a disposition hearing the same day or the child may elect to have the disposition held on a different day, which will be not less than 5 days but not more than 30 days after the adjudication hearing.

What could happen at the disposition hearing?

  • The juvenile could be placed on probation.
  • The juvenile can be placed in the custody of or under the guardianship of the Juvenile Services Agency.
  • The juvenile may be ordered to participate in rehabilitative services that are in the best interest of the child and the family.
  • The juvenile may be ordered to a juvenile detention facility for a period of time set by the Court.

What is a restitution hearing?

A restitution hearing may be a separate hearing held after the adjudication and disposition hearings. First, the state must prove that as a result of the delinquent act, the victim’s personal property was stolen, damaged or destroyed and/or medical, dental, hospital or funeral expenses were incurred by the victim’s family. If the state proves these facts the Master may enter a judgment of restitution against the juvenile and/or the juvenile’s parents.  The restitution may also be a condition of the juvenile’s probation if so ordered by the Court.