Teen in cuffs

Understanding the Juvenile System and Juvenile Courts

States understand that children who commit crimes should be considered less blameworthy and have a greater ability to change than adults. For this reason, the juvenile system was created to provide supervision, guidance, and education for those that are placed into their care. This system is much different than the one that holds adults accountable for their actions. Read on to learn more about the juvenile system and juvenile courts if you need a juvenile defense law attorney in Anne Arundel County.

The Purpose of the Juvenile System

If a child has been found delinquent by the juvenile court, they might be placed in the juvenile system, which is charged with providing care, protection, and mental and physical development of the child. The system is designed to provide a living environment that will keep the community safe while offering treatment and rehabilitation, allowing the child to become a productive member of society. The state has decided that children have a greater capacity to change and be productive in society so they provide that opportunity through the system.

Getting Placed into the System

There are multiple ways that a child may be placed in the juvenile system. In most cases, either the child was arrested for committing a crime, a citizen or agency filed a complaint against the child with the Department of Juvenile Services, or a law enforcement officer filed a report with the Department of Juvenile Services. In these situations, the court will decide if the child is too young to be tried as an adult and will place the child into the system. In some cases, the child may be charged as an adult, but tried or sentenced as a juvenile.

What Happens in Juvenile Court

When the Department of Juvenile Services receives a complaint or petition about a juvenile, an intake officer will be assigned the case to investigate and make a recommendation about whether or not the case should enter the juvenile court. If the case is taken to court, the child has the same rights as an adult, such as the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. The court will decide whether the child should be released into the custody of their guardian or if they should be held in a juvenile detention facility. The court also will hold a hearing to determine if there is enough probable cause for the child to stand trial.

Judge and gavel

How a Defendant May Be Charged

Whether you are charged as an adult or a child will determine if you end up in a juvenile detention center or in an adult jail. This determination largely depends on the age of the person charged. In most cases, a person under the age of 18 will go into juvenile court unless the crime committed is very serious. Generally, anyone under the age of 14 will go into juvenile court if they commit a crime unless the crime is first-degree murder or first-degree rape. Those 14 years or older may be charged as an adult if the crime they’re accused of committing is punishable by life imprisonment. If the defendant is 16 years or older at the time of the offense, they may be charged as an adult for carjacking, abduction, kidnapping, second-degree murder, assault, or manslaughter.

The juvenile system and juvenile court are designed to help children that have committed a crime rejoin society as productive members. If you or someone close to you, such as your child, are under the age of 18 and have committed a crime, you may need a juvenile defense attorney. Contact Ortega Law if you need a juvenile lawyer for yourself or a child.