What Happens if My Child is Arrested in Maryland?Even though some parents joke about what they would do if they received a phone call that their child has been arrested, receiving that type of call could be a parent’s worst nightmare. No parent wants to think about their child being left in the hands of other adults that may or may not have their best interest at heart.

Although an arrest is not the end of the world for your child, it can begin a long and arduous process for both child and parent. To help your child navigate this process, it is important that you understand the different options available to your child post-arrest with the help of a  juvenile crimes attorney from Carey Law Office.

What rights does your child have?

The most important information for you and your child to understand is that your child has rights. Similar to adults, your child has the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. In fact, your child does not have to say anything to a police officer if either an attorney or you, the parents, are not present. It is very important that you stress to your child the importance of asking for an attorney or for a parent once they have been arrested.

How does the intake hearing work?

Because your child is considered a minor, and minors cannot be detained in an adult jail, your child will be issued a juvenile citation and taken to the police station until you pick your child up. The juvenile citation will consist of a summons to appear at an intake hearing in the county where the offense happened, or in Baltimore City.

An intake hearing is an informal meeting between a Department of Juvenile Services officer, your child, and yourself or other members of your family. The intake officer has 25 days to determine whether there is juvenile jurisdiction and if court action is the appropriate course of action. Depending on the results of the intake hearing, there are three different types of outcomes awaiting your child.

  • The first involves a scenario where your child’s case is closed, and your child is issued a warning; this is the best outcome that you want to happen as a parent.
  • The second outcome involves a scenario where the officer decides to move forward with your child’s case and your child is placed on informal supervision for 90 days. Under informed supervision, your child may be tasked with completing community service and reporting to the office; but on the bright side, the case will not advance to court unless your child violates the terms of informal supervision.
  • The final outcome is a scenario where an officer forwards your child’s case to the State’s Attorney’s Office for an adjudication hearing and formal prosecution.

What is the adjudication hearing?

If your child’s case is forwarded to the State’s Attorney’s Office for formal prosecution, this is the scenario where things become challenging for you and your child. It is during this stage in the process where a prosecutor must come to a decision about whether to file a petition. For juveniles, a petition is a charging document that is similar to an indictment, with the exception of referring to the juvenile as a criminal and instead referring to the juvenile as the respondent.

This petition explains the charges against your child, as well as any claims made for restitution. According to Maryland law, the state is entitled to seek up to $10,000 in restitution from you, the child’s guardian, depending on the charges alleged against your child.

Once the petition is filed, your child must appear for an initial appearance; after that, the case will be scheduled for an adjudication hearing within 45 days. The purpose of the adjudication hearing is for a judge or magistrate to determine whether the statements in the petition regarding your child are true. These hearings are similar to a trial in adult criminal court based on the fact that the state must prove delinquency beyond a reasonable doubt against your child.

Just like a trial in adult criminal court, your child has the right to an attorney to represent them in the adjudication hearing, as well as the right to remain silent. If the court determines that the statements in the petition are true, your child will be ordered to a disposition hearing.

What happens at a disposition hearing?

At a disposition hearing, the intention of the judge or magistrate is to determine whether your child is a delinquent and in need of guidance, treatment, or rehabilitation. What is frightening is that the judge or magistrate also has the power to determine what kind of guidance, treatment, or rehabilitation that your child will need. This means that the judge can decide to commit your child to the Department of Juvenile Services and place your child in a juvenile program or decide to keep your child under your care while on probation with services from the State. For many families, this feels like a gamble.

Will my child have to leave home?

If a judge determines that your child is delinquent, there is a possibility that your child can be placed outside of your home. There are, however, certain factors that the judge considers before coming to the decision of placing a child outside of their home. The judge takes into account how severe the offense was; your child’s past record; how cooperative your child has been; whether your child is a danger to themselves or anyone else; how likely it is that your child will return to court when required; and how safe it is for your child and others if the child returns home.

Generally, there are certain offenses that cannot place your child outside the home, such as possession of marijuana, disturbing the peace or disorderly conduct, or an offense involving theft or trespassing.

When your child has been arrested in Maryland, it is important to consult an experienced juvenile crimes attorney as quickly as possible. Carey Law Office can review the case and provide an honest assessment. Call us in Bowie or Crofton at 301-464-2500, or complete a contact form to schedule an appointment today. We serve clients from our Crofton and Bowie offices throughout Calvert County and the rest of Maryland.