The Juvenile Court Division prosecutes persons under the age of 18 who have committed acts which would be crimes if they were committed by an adult. In some instances a case involving a person under age 18 is handled in the adult court.
Case begin when the police investigate and refer a matter to the Department of Juvenile Services. The Department, after reviewing the case, may either dispose of it with an informal disposition, or refer it to the State's Attorney's Office.
The State's Attorney's Office reviews all referrals and evaluates each for possible prosecution. Factors considered include the severity of the crime, the quality and availability of evidence, and the amount of restitution involved. When appropriate, the State's Attorney's Office files charges against the juvenile. Juvenile cases are heard by the judges of the Juvenile Court for Cecil County. Hearings are conducted in the Cecil County Courthouse at 129 East Main Street, Elkton. There are no juries in the Juvenile Courts.
If a victim has suffered economic loss as a direct result of a delinquent act, the Court may order a judgment of restitution against the juvenile. The juvenile's parents may also be responsible. The juvenile's liability for one act may not exceed $10,000.
A victim who believes he or she is entitled to restitution should complete the restitution request forms from the State's Attorney's Office and return them before the trial.
Click here for information about the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services
- Some cases go to trial. Some cases are resolved without a trial, if the juvenile admits responsibility. Other methods of resolution are also used.
Victims and witnesses receive notice of the trial dates. They are required to appear unless excused by the State's Attorney. Every effort is made to resolve cases in advance of the trial date and to notify victims and witnesses if they will not be needed to appear.
If you receive a notice to appear you should call the State's Attorney's Office (410.996.5336) a day in advance to see if you are still needed. Victims and witnesses are generally welcome to view the proceedings even if they are not needed to testify.
What happens to a juvenile who admits to a crime, or is found by the Court to have committed a crime?Once a juvenile either admits to, or is found by the Court to have committed a delinquent act, the Department of Juvenile Services (DJS) prepares a detailed background report. At the Disposition Hearing, the Court considers the report from DJS and other information including impact statements from the victim, and the recommendation of the State's Attorney's Office. The Court has a range of options including placing the juvenile on probation, placing him/her in the custody of a juvenile treatment facility, and requiring him /her to participate in appropriate treatment or counseling.