A criminal charge can have serious consequences and lasting impacts for any individual. Whether that’s a DUI, illegally transporting or possessing a gun or drugs, minor or major cases of theft, or any other illegal offense. But how do such charges affect someone under the age of 18? Will they be tried to the same degree as an adult? What are the laws for juvenile crime in the state of Maryland?
Many parents spend sleepless nights wondering about these and other questions when their child has been accused of a criminal offense. The answer will depend on:
- The child’s age
- How involved the child was in the crime
- The degree to which public safety was concerned
- The child’s physical and mental stability
- How amenable the child is to possible treatment
- The crime itself
What Crimes Can a Juvenile in Maryland Be Charged as an Adult?
Serious crimes, even if committed by an individual younger than 18 years old, will be under the jurisdiction of the adult criminal justice system. Such crimes may include:
- First or second-degree murder, attempted murder, and involuntary manslaughter
- First, second, or third-degree rape and other sex offenses
- First-degree assault
- Armed robbery and carjacking
- Criminal Misdemeanor Offenses
- Several handgun offenses including illegal possession or illegal use of a firearm
In cases where the sentence for the offense normally involves the death penalty or life in prison for adults, even juveniles that are 14 or 15 years old also can be tried to the same standard as adults.
When Can Jurisdiction Over a Child Be Transferred to the Adult System?
A juvenile will also be under the adult system’s jurisdiction if they had previously been tried for a felony (even felonies not listed above) as an adult.
When it comes to other cases such as drug offenses or DUIs, a motion may be made to waiver jurisdiction for juveniles that are 15 years old or older. If the motion is granted by the court, an in-depth investigation of the child, any previous criminal records, health records, and more will commence. This investigation will determine whether or not the juvenile will be tried in the adult system. This motion can come from the presiding judge or the prosecuting attorney.
Sometimes, a motion doesn’t even need to be made under what’s called statutory exclusion. If a child has a previous criminal record and commits a violent felony, they may automatically be sent to the adult system.
Criminal Defense Lawyer Protecting Juvenile Rights
Every juvenile or minor accused of a crime has the right to be defended by an attorney at law. Sentences for juveniles charged as adults stay with the child altering the rest of their life. But having a strong criminal defense lawyer on your side is your child’s best shot for reduced charges and avoiding adult prosecution.
For parents or juveniles looking for such a defense in Ocean City, MD and surrounding areas, work with criminal defense attorney C. Gregory Coburn. He has been representing clients of all ages for over 30 years, providing them with the best possible defense for drug, DUI, DWI, handgun, firearm, weapon, burglary, and other criminal charges. Schedule a free consultation with him today to discuss your or your child’s case.