Maryland Courts

Family Law Information

Juvenile Justice

Youth under the age of 18 charged with committing a crime are treated differently than adults.  The goals of the juvenile court and the juvenile justice system are to address the causes of the misconduct while protecting the community.  Youth who are arrested may be diverted to a program by the police or be informally supervised by the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services.

In more serious cases ,or if a child has had multiple contacts with law enforcement, a case can be referred to the state’s attorney who files a petition in the juvenile court alleging that the child is a delinquent.  If the police officers and/or the court believe that a child may not appear for court or is a danger to himself or to the public the child may be placed in detention before a fact finding hearing is held. 

Children who are placed in detention by the police will have a hearing the next day before a judge or master.  Youth are entitled to be represented by a lawyer at this hearing and at all delinquency hearings.

The fact finding hearing, (similar to a trial), conducted within 30 to 60 days,  called the adjudication in juvenile court.  The court decides at the disposition hearing,  if a child can remain at home with services or must be placed in a juvenile services facility .

Youth over the age of 16 who are charged with violent crimes will have criminal complaints filed in the adult court.  Most of these youth have the opportunity to appear before a judge for a transfer hearing  to determine if they can be returned to juvenile court.