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The law and procedures concerning offenses committed by juveniles is set out in the Maryland Juvenile Causes statute.
Any child who is under the age of 18 is considered to be a juvenile and is subject to prosecution for delinquent acts which are defined as acts which would be a crime if committed by an adult. While juvenile proceedings are not criminal proceedings, most of the protection afforded to adults in criminal cases are afforded to a child. The offenses charged are included in a petition charging delinquency, filed by the State’s Attorney, using language describing specific criminal acts committed by the child. If the offenses are proved by the prosecutor, the child is found to be delinquent. The juvenile courts, in determining the punishment to be imposed, focus on the guidance, treatment, or rehabilitation the child needs. The court may order that the child be placed on probation, that the child be placed under supervision in the child’s own home, or that the child be placed in a juvenile institution.
The filing of a petition alleging delinquency is
a serious matter and a child is entitled to the assistance of counsel.
An attorney can raise all defenses that arise under the facts of the case,
he can ensure that the child’s rights have not been violated, and
he can make persuasive arguments to the court concerning disposition,
if the child is found to be delinquent. An attorney can also provide needed
representation where, because of the seriousness of the offense, the lack
of amenability to treatment, and other considerations, the court considers
waiving jurisdiction of the juvenile court and referring the case to the
adult criminal courts.
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