Trying Juveniles as Adults in Maryland

Posted by ortegalaw on August 21st, 2019

The U.S. incarcerates nearly 500,000 juvenile offenders each year. And that excludes any minors who get tried as adults in criminal court. Before Cook County, IL founded the first juvenile court in 1899, all children seven years old and up were deemed capable of criminal intent and received trials as adults for any criminal charge they got. Over time, the focus of rehabilitation over punishment began to take hold, thus the creation of juvenile courts.

In the 1980s and ‘90s, juvenile crime was on the rise, as perceived by the American public. Violent crimes committed by youth became prevalent, and many believed that the juvenile court system was too lenient with criminal offenders like these. To get tough on crime, legislators passed more punitive laws against juveniles and enforced more mandatory sentences, even allowing for automatic transfer of juvenile offenders to adult courts for some crimes.

Juvenile Court and Adult Transfers

Each state features its own courts for minors accused of violating a criminal statute aged seven to 18. These juvenile courts deal in civil rather than criminal proceedings. No matter the crime, a juvenile can’t get a criminal charge. If a Maryland judge determines the minor to be a delinquent, the court offers mental and physical care, considering public safety, providing rehabilitation treatment plans, holding the parents responsible, and removing the minor from any unsafe home environment.

But you could wind up looking for a juvenile attorney in Anne Arundel County if a young offender gets tried as an adult. Some ways this can happen are if the presiding judge files a judicial waiver or if a prosecuting attorney motions for direct file, or prosecutorial discretion. Some states, including Maryland, have statutory exclusion, which considers several factors per existing statutes.

Consequences of Adult Trial Under Maryland Law

The effects of a minor being tried as an adult are severe because they face the same penalties imposed on adults for similar crimes, despite their age. If a minor’s already been tried as an adult once, they’re subject to the same future legal treatment. Once they serve their time, they’ll have a permanent record which could hurt their chances of education and employment in the future. They’ll also incur the loss of individual rights, such as voting and owning a firearm.

Maryland law maintains several instances that could see a juvenile face an adult trial, but only if they’re 16 years of age or older. These include abduction, kidnapping, carjacking, manslaughter, second-degree murder, second- and third-degree sexual offenses including rape, first-degree assault, robbery with a deadly weapon, including a firearm in any way during a drug trafficking crime, and the use or possession of a firearm in general. The presiding judge ultimately decides.

If you’d like to learn more about how to navigate the juvenile court system and prevent a minor from being tried as an adult, get in touch with a reputable juvenile attorney in Anne Arundel County.

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Joined: May 6th, 2019
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