The Youth Equity and Safety (YES) Act, formally known as Maryland Senate Bill 93, could bring good news for under-18s facing criminal charges – if legislators pass it.
The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee called Ortega Law’s Windy Ortega to testify before them on the subject. She spoke on behalf of the Maryland Criminal Defense Attorneys’ Association which sees the legislation as one of the 2023 session’s most crucial and far-reaching bills.
What does the bill aim to do?
Under current laws, not all juveniles get to be charged as juveniles. If they are over a certain age and accused of certain crimes, they will automatically be charged as adults. While they can generally apply to be tried in a juvenile court, Windy and others believe that should not be necessary. As juveniles, the juvenile court should be the default option.
Windy explained the success she and others have had in transferring juveniles charged as adults to instead face charges in a juvenile court. Not only can it reduce the time taken to resolve the cases, but it can also help achieve a more satisfactory outcome.
Juveniles are not adults, so why try them as such?
In so many areas, the law makes it clear that legislators see minors as incapable of making major decisions yet. Examples include voting, inheritance and marriage. So why does it feel they have the same capacity as adults when deciding to commit a serious crime?
Ortega Law is very proud that Windy Ortega was able to speak on behalf of the bill that would so greatly benefit the community that we serve. Keeping juveniles in juvenile court would help more to change and become fully contributing members of society. Surely that’s good for everyone.