Understanding Juvenile Crime in Maryland | A Parent’s Guide
The juvenile justice system is designed to rehabilitate young people who have committed delinquent acts while holding them accountable for their actions.
While it can be an intimidating legal system to navigate, understanding the basics of juvenile crime law can help you decide what you want to do if your child has broken the law.
Here is a quick parent’s guide to understanding juvenile crime in Maryland.
What is juvenile law?
Juvenile crime law is the branch of law that concerns itself with the legal rights of individuals who are below the age of 18 in their given jurisdiction. The law strives to treat juveniles as separate from adults and to specifically protect their rights and well-being.
One critical aspect of juvenile law is that it recognizes the fact that children and teenagers, as a general rule, do not have the capacity to commit crimes with the same level of understanding and intent as adults.
The law is intended to treat minors like minors in an adult world. It is intended to be rehabilitative rather than punitive. Thus, the goal is not to lock kids up, but rather to correct delinquent behavior and hopefully turn them into productive citizens.
To fully understand juvenile law, you must first understand how the juvenile justice system works and what role law enforcement plays in it.
How the juvenile system protects minors
The juvenile justice system is made up of different parts that work together to keep children and teens from breaking the law and to help them learn from their mistakes if they do break the law. The police and the courts work with agencies like schools and social service providers to accomplish this goal.
The police’s job is to determine whether to arrest or cite juveniles for their offenses or take them into custody and release them into the custody of their parents or guardians, depending on whether they are charged with misdemeanors or felonies.
The juvenile justice system is inclined more towards correcting criminal behavior, rather than making minors pay for their actions. Therefore, it is important to the fabric of our society.
Having said that, if their crime is bad enough, a juvenile can be tried as an adult in the regular criminal court system. But this usually only happens in cases of serious felonies, such as murder or rape.
What’s included in juvenile law?
The most common misconception about juvenile law is that it is limited to dealing with children committing crimes. The reality is that juvenile law encompasses all aspects of the legal rights of minors.
These aspects include constitutional rights concerning search and seizure, interrogation, self-incrimination, due process, and the right to counsel among more.
Juvenile law also addresses issues surrounding child custody, child abuse, adoption proceedings, emancipation procedures, school discipline issues, delinquency proceedings, and more.
For example, if a parent physically or sexually abuses a child, or fails to properly feed or clothe a child, the state can step in and remove the child from harm’s way and place them in foster care because that, too, is a part of the juvenile justice system.
A delinquency proceeding in Maryland is a juvenile court case that addresses allegations of child abuse and neglect, status offenses (acts that would be criminal if done by an adult), and violations of the Maryland State Law.
The law does not provide for criminal penalties for children under the age of 18. Instead, when a juvenile is alleged to have committed a delinquent act, the juvenile court may handle the case in one of three ways:
A major difference between regular proceedings and delinquency proceedings is that there are no jury members present in the latter. The judge single-handedly gives a verdict based on the arguments.
Right to lawyer
The constitution guarantees that everyone charged with a crime has the right to an attorney, whether they can afford to pay for one or not. The purpose of this right is to ensure that defendants have access to quality legal representation.
So, as soon as you are familiar with the charges your child is facing, you need to get in touch with an experienced Baltimore juvenile lawyer.
A juvenile attorney is someone who specializes in representing minors in court. They can either be appointed by the court to represent children or be hired by the parents or guardians of the accused. But their goal remains the same – protecting juveniles from serious penalties or punishments while getting them the help and attention they need.
A parent’s role in juvenile cases
There are many reasons why children commit crimes; however, it is important to remember that kids do not deserve adult punishments for their actions. Juveniles often make bad choices while developing their moral compass and a better understanding of right and wrong.
Additionally, criminal behavior among juveniles is often linked to mental health issues, drug abuse, or exposure to domestic violence at home.
As a parent or guardian, you should be willing to take heed of the problem as soon as you can and make sure that your child gets the necessary emotional and legal support they need and deserve. The earlier you act, the stronger your child’s case will be.