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 (1) the child commits an act which would be a crime if the child were 18 years old and (2) the child requires guidance, treatment or rehabilitation.
  • Child in Need of Assistance (CINA): A CINA case involves 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 (CINS): A CINS case involves a child who has committed a "status offense" such as truancy, violation of curfew laws, running away, habitual disobedience and ungovernable behavior.

Are all juvenile offenses sent to juvenile court?

Most juvenile cases are initially processed by the local Juvenile Services Agency intake office. Here, an intake officer will decide whether to close a case, send the child to a diversion program for treatment and guidance, or refer the case to the State's Attorney's Office.

What happens in juvenile court?

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

What is an adjudication hearing?

An adjudication hearing is the equivalent of a trial in the adult court system. The terminology is different between the adult and juvenile court systems. Please contact your advocate if you have any questions.

What happens after the adjudicatory hearing?

If the child is found to be delinquent, the Master (Judge) will hold a disposition hearing the same day as the adjudicatory hearing or the child may elect to have the disposition held on a different day not less than 5 days nor more than 30 days after the adjudicatory hearing.

What could happen at the disposition hearing?

  • The juvenile can be placed on probation and/or under supervision while still living in his/her own home.
  • The juvenile can be placed in the custody 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 family.

What is a restitution hearing?

A restitution hearing may be a separate hearing held after the adjudicatory and disposition hearings. First, the state must prove that as a result of a 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. Then if the state proves its contentions, the Master (Judge) may enter a judgment of restitution against the juvenile and/or the juvenile's parents to pay an amount not to exceed $10,000. The restitution may be a condition of the juvenile's probation.