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Maryland Juvenile Crime Laws

Juveniles who have committed acts that would normally be considered a crime are treated differently than adults, in most situations. Maryland juvenile crime laws, like those in most other states, provide a process for punishing crimes committed by juveniles in a manner intended to address the cause of juvenile misconduct and protect the community, while avoiding actions that may result in permanent damage to the juvenile.

For this reason, many juvenile criminal acts will result in referral to the Services and Diversion Programs available through the Department of Juvenile Services. More serious criminal acts may result in referral to the state's attorney, who may file an action in juvenile court seeking an adjudication of delinquency.

Overview of Maryland Juvenile Crime Laws

The following chart provides some basic information relating to issues involved in Maryland juvenile crime laws:


Maryland Code, Courts and Judicial Proceedings Section 3-8A-01 et seq.

Delinquency Proceedings

Juveniles who committed a serious criminal act, or who have been in trouble repeatedly, may face delinquency proceedings. The process proceeds as follows:

  1. Detention - If the child is a flight risk or a risk to themselves or others, they may be detained pending adjudication;
  2. Detention Hearing - A detained child has a hearing the next day to review their detention;
  3. Adjudication - Within 30-60 days the court holds a fact-finding hearing that is the equivalent of a trial referred to as adjudication. If the juvenile is found guilty a disposition hearing is scheduled;
  4. Disposition - The disposition hearing is held the same day as the adjudication or at a later time. At the disposition hearing the court determines whether or not to make a finding of delinquency and decides on the counseling or rehabilitation appropriate.
Potential Penalties

The judge in juvenile matters may determine the appropriate course of action following a disposition hearing. The penalties they may impose include the following:

  • Probation under the supervision of the Department of Juvenile Services;
  • Order restitution of up to $10,000 to be paid by the juvenile or their parents for the theft, damage, or destruction relating to their delinquent acts; and
  • Commit a child to the Department of Juvenile Services for placement in an appropriate facility for care, rehabilitation, or guidance;

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Related Resources:

If you would like to learn more about Maryland juvenile crime laws the following links provide additional information:

Learn More About Maryland Juvenile Crime Laws from a Lawyer

Although Maryland juvenile crime laws are designed to avoid the most serious potential consequences for criminal acts, it's still important that you take the charges seriously. For this reason, it's a good idea to contact a local criminal defense attorney who can help guide you and your child through the juvenile justice system and argue for the least damaging outcomes.

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