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Published on 4/11/2024, 2:43:00 PM

Juvenile Law Update 2024 | MD New Juvenile Laws

Much awaited Juvenile law changes are on the horizon with the introduction of House Bill 814, which introduces significant reforms in juvenile justice. Effective on November 1, 2024, this bill redefines the conditions and procedures for taking children into custody, changes the ages for which children can be charged in juvenile court, changes the intake process, and incurs new reporting structures related to juvenile law data.

Changes to Juvenile Court Jurisdiction

Juvenile Jurisdiction was reduced in the April of 2022 Maryland Senate Bill 691. Public outcry resulted from the outlawing of charging children under 10 with any offenses and children under 13 with solely crimes of violence.

The legislature has sought to remedy that issue with the following changes

Expansion of the ability to charge children 10-12

Children who are at least 10 years old can be charged with:

  1. A crime of violence
  2. A wear carry transport handgun offense
  3. A use of a firearm in a crime of violence
  4. Underage Possession of a Firearm
  5. Illegal sale, transport, or disposal of firearms.
  6. Removal of serial number from a firearm
  7. Illegal Possession of a rifle
  8. Possession of a firearm without a serial number
  9. Aggravated animal Cruelty
  10. Third Degree Sexual Offenses

This marks an expansion of the juvenile Court's jurisdiction where there previously was a gap. Most notably, children at least 10 years old can be brought back into juvenile custody for a wide range of charges, including firearms offenses.

Changes to Juvenile Detention

Juvenile detention is a hot button issue in the State of Maryland. Currently, Law enforcement may take children into custody when:

  1. The Court orders it
  2. By arrest
  3. If reasonable grounds exist to believe that the child is in immediate danger from the child's surroundings and that the child's removal is necessary for the child's protection
  4. If a child runs away from their parent or guardian

Changes to Juvenile Arrests for Children

Under new laws Juveniles may be taken into custody if authorized by the Department of Juvenile Services. There are some changes as to the types of offenses and age requirements for doing so.

Children generally may not be taken into custody for misdemeanor offenses unless:

  1. The act involved a handgun
  2. The child has been adjudicated delinquent twice in the last two years
  3. The child was under DJS supervision at the time of the offense
  4. The misdemeanor act would carry at least two years of incarceration for an adult (other than second degree assault

Changes to Juvenile Arrests for Children under 13

Children under 13 may not be taken into detention for offenses involving firearms as long as they have not been previously adjudicated delinquent for another firearms offense.

If a child was already released by DJS into community detention and violates it, DJS may authorize detention of the child.

Electronic Monitoring Violations by Children

DJS will have more strict reporting requirements regarding children who violate electronic monitoring on community detention. They will have to notify the Court, the State's Attorney and the Child's attorney of an electronic monitoring violation within 24 hours of it happening.

Changes to the Juvenile Intake Process

The intake process has also been changed. The diagram below explains the juvenile intake process.

Notably - the time for the Department of Juvenile Services to conduct their intake has been reduced to 15 (fifteen) business days, down from the previous cap of twenty five days.

Juvenile Intakes after Detention is Denied

Additionally there is a new provision related to cases where law enforcement officers request detention of a child. In those cases - when the intake officer does not authorize detention by law enforcement, the Department of Juvenile Services will need to conduct their intake within two business days. This aims to bring cases into juvenile court faster when law enforcement wanted to detain a child and were denied by the Department of Juvenile Services.

Juvenile Intake Decision Timelines

Under the new juvenile laws the Department of Juvenile Services will need to make their intake decisions much quicker. Specifically, the new law requires that they "shall immediately'' render their decision as to whether a case belongs in Juvenile court, or should be subject to an informal adjustment.

Juvenile intakes for Children already under DJS Supervision

New laws require that the Department immediately forward a juvenile complaint against a youth already under their supervision to the States Attorney if they believe the case can be handled outside of court by informal adjustment.

Children under 13 Charged with Car theft

New law changes were specifically designed to combat the perception that there are a large amount of car thefts perpetrated by children. These youths, often dubbed names like "kia boys" have taken a large amount of media focus in the last few years. It is often reported that these cases are dealt with informally, resulting in increased frustration by law enforcement.
In certain circumstances, law enforcement could not even charge children under 12 with motor vehicle offenses.

Law enforcement officers must forward all complaints of children under 13 who are alleged to have committed car theft directly to the Department of Juvenile Services.

New law provides that if a child under 13 is charged with a motor vehicle theft, the department must authorize filing a petition. This means that all children under 13 charged with a car theft will have to have their case heard in juvenile court. These cases cannot be dealt with outside of Court anymore.

Changes to Informal Adjustments

New laws will require that the Department of Juvenile Services automatically forward cases to the States attorney's office where an informal was unsuccessful, even if they believe the matter should not go to juvenile court.

Additionally, victims, police, or other persons filing juvenile complaints shall be notified electronically of the Department's decision regarding informal adjustments or denial of petitions.

Changes to Juvenile Probation

Juvenile Probation changes are coming as well. Specifically, juvenile probation lengths have been extended.

Changes Juvenile Probation Limits for Misdemeanor Offenses

Under new law Juvenile Courts will be able to supervise children on probation for up to one year for a misdemeanor, which effectively doubles the prior limit of six months.

Children who violate probation may have their probation extended to a maximum of two years, increased from the prior maximum of one year.

Changes Juvenile Probation Limits for Felony Offenses

Children adjudicated delinquent of a felony offense may now face up to two years of probation, which can be extended to up to four years if the Court makes specific findings of good cause to extend and that doing so is in the best interests of the child.

Accountability in the Juvenile Law System

Although not directly discussed at length in this article, House Bill 814 establishes a framework for accountability and continual improvement within the juvenile justice system.

It sets up a commission to oversee the implementation of these reforms, ensuring that the changes are not only theoretical but actively enforced. This commission will play a crucial role in steering the state's juvenile justice policies towards more evidence-based and humane practices.

Juvenile Court Chart

Juvenile Law Flow chart