In most states, Maryland included, minors are treated differently than adults by the criminal justice system. Children typically should not be held responsible for their actions in the same way that adults should because their brains and decision-making faculties are still developing. Moreover, instead of punishment, the juvenile justice system typically works toward reforming and rehabilitating delinquent minors to help prevent them from ending up in prison as adults.
If your child was charged with a crime, talk to our Maryland juvenile criminal defense attorney today. The Law Offices of Randolph Rice represents adults and minors who were charged with crimes, and we fight to keep our clients out of the system if possible. To schedule a free legal consultation on your case, call our attorneys today at (410) 694-7291.
Criminal Defense Attorney for Minors Charged with Crimes in MD
In the juvenile justice system, many terms have different names. Instead of “crimes,” minors commit “delinquent acts.” “Trials” are replaced with “adjudication hearings” or “adjudicatory hearings” where a minor can be “adjudicated delinquent” by a judge instead of “found guilty” by a jury. This language goes to show that this system truly is different from the adult criminal justice system, but many of the specific differences are vital to your child’s rights and their potential future.
When a minor is arrested, they are usually not sent to jail like an adult. Instead, they will be put in a juvenile detention facility with other youths. They may be released before their hearing, which can allow them to return home. If they are kept in detention, they must have a hearing at periodic intervals to determine whether continued detention is appropriate.
The judge in a juvenile case will not always issue penalties for the charges the minor faces. In some cases, judges understand that the charges stemmed from a prank or a mistake, and they are willing to accept a child’s remorse alongside restitution for any damages the juvenile caused. Often, paying for medical expenses and property damage is enough of a punishment, and the judge will release the juvenile from the system.
In other cases, the judge may think that further punishment and rehabilitation is necessary.
Penalties for Juvenile Crimes in Maryland
Maryland, like most states, authorizes judges to order a minor to be detained in a juvenile detention facility if they commit a crime. These detentions are overseen very closely, and the child’s best interests and rehabilitation should always be the judge’s primary concern. This means that juveniles are usually committed to a detention facility only if they are a danger or they are at risk for committing more crimes.
As an alternative to detention, many juveniles are put on juvenile probation. This assigns a juvenile probation officer (JOP) to check in on and supervise the minor to make sure that they are completing any required classes, community service, drug testing, and therapy that the judge might have ordered, and that they are staying free of additional crime. Your JOP might be on your side throughout much of your case, but they still work for the court system and do not represent you. It is still important to hire an attorney for these cases.
When placed on juvenile probation, the minor may need to attend regular hearings and drug testing for a prolonged time until the judge is satisfied with the minor’s progress toward rehabilitation and believes that the juvenile is not at risk to commit more crimes. For many, this probation can extend into their adult life. If the juvenile is still on probation when they turn 18, they may be arrested on adult charges if they commit another crime, sending them to jail and leaving the relative safety of the juvenile system behind.
In most cases where there is any sort of injury or damage to property, the juvenile may be required to pay restitution to the victim. This would cover the cost of their hospital bills or damage to property to pay them back for the harm done. Some cases might also include fines and court costs.
Attorney for Trials and Adjudication Hearings for Juveniles
A juvenile accused of committing a crime is often entitled to a hearing before a judge to determine whether or not they committed the alleged acts. This case does not have the same right to a jury trial that most adult cases have, but the juvenile is still entitled to have an attorney represent them, cross-examine witnesses, and present a defense case of their own.
At the end of an adjudication hearing, the charges will either be dismissed when the juvenile is acquitted, or they will be adjudicated delinquent and referred for potential penalties.
Getting Tried as an Adult in Maryland
In rare cases, minors who commit crimes are tried as adults. This is usually required for some crimes, but prosecutors may be able to attempt to transfer a juvenile to the adult system for some offenses if they are a certain age. In most cases, it is absolutely preferable to be tried as a minor, and our attorneys will fight to have this happen in cases where the defendant is under 18 or barely an adult.
Call Our Maryland Juvenile Defense Lawyers for a Free Consultation
If your child was charged with juvenile offenses or is being tried as an adult for a crime they committed while they were under 18, call the Law Offices of Randolph Rice today. Our Maryland juvenile criminal defense lawyers may be able to take your case and fight to have charges dropped and penalties reduced. For a free legal consultation on your case, call us today at (410) 694-7291.