The Juvenile Division is tasked with prosecuting individuals under the age of 18 in Juvenile Court for criminal offenses that would be crimes if committed by an adult. The juvenile system is designed by Maryland law to provide rehabilitative services to delinquent youth, rather than traditional criminal sanctions and involves many different levels of interaction from the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services, a State agency charged with handling delinquent youth. The Juvenile Court operates differently from other court systems and juvenile matters are, by law, confidential.
The Juvenile Division staff work closely with the courts, victims, families and social service agencies to ensure that juvenile offenders are held accountable for their criminal behavior and that they receive the most comprehensive services available to maximize their rehabilitative needs. In some instances, due to the serious nature of a crime, a juvenile matter may be filed directly to the adult court where adult penalties apply.
A case against a juvenile is initially referred to the Department of Juvenile Services by the police or through a citizen complaint. Case workers in this State agency assess a youth’s needs and may dispose of a matter by offering that youth services without referring a case for prosecution. This process is known as an informal disposition and must involve the input of a victim prior to implementation.
The Department of Juvenile Services may also refer a juvenile matter to the State’s Attorney’s Office and formal court action should this informal process fail. Additionally, the Department of Juvenile Services is obligated to forward a juvenile matter to the State’s Attorney’s Office if the underlying crime charged is classified as a felony or a victim or complainant requests a prosecutorial review of the decision of the Department of Juvenile Services to informal a matter.
For additional information, please visit: https://djs.maryland.gov/pages/default.aspx