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A closer look at Maryland’s juvenile justice system

Last week, our blog discussed how juvenile crime — including offenses like robbery, assault and theft — has recently become more of a problem on the Maryland Transit Administration’s Metro cars, MARC trains, light rail and buses.

In light of this reality, it may be worthwhile to take a closer look at the state’s juvenile court system such that young people charged with any sort of crime and their parents will have a better idea of what to expect going forward.

Juvenile court: Background information

In the eyes of the law, anyone under the age of 18 is treated as a minor here in Maryland. What this essentially means is that their case will go through the juvenile system, which handles potential criminal matters far differently.

Indeed, the primary goal of the juvenile court system is not to punish the minor, but rather to address and rectify the underlying causes of their misconduct while still protecting the community at large.

Delinquent or not?

Minors who commit crimes won’t necessarily find themselves inside a courtroom. That’s because an intake officer at the Department of Juvenile Services will likely review their case, and extend both the minor and their family an opportunity to meet to discuss matters related to the crime.

Depending on the outcome of these efforts, the intake officer may make the decision to place the minor in a diversion program for treatment or guidance, or place them under informal supervision by the DJS.   

However, if the underlying matter is especially serious and/or the minor has had multiple run-ins with law enforcement, the intake officer may refer the matter to the state’s attorney.

We will continue to explore this issue in our next post …

If you are a minor who has been arrested for any sort of offense, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible to ensure that your rights and your future are protected.

Sources: Maryland Courts, “Juvenile delinquency,” Accessed Nov. 3, 2014; Maryland State Bar Association, “Juvenile court,” Accessed Nov. 3, 2014

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