The Maryland State Bar Association’s Public Awareness Committee has prepared this information. It is intended to inform the public and not serve as legal advice.

What is Juvenile Court?

In Maryland, a child under the age of 18 is considered a juvenile. Since state law requires that a juvenile who commits a crime be treated differently than an adult, juvenile cases are handled in the Juvenile Court system.

What Kinds of Cases Go to Juvenile Court?

Delinquency – A child is delinquent if he or she commits a crime. Some children may be treated as adults in Circuit Court rather than Juvenile Court, depending upon the severity of the crime, the child’s age, his or her prior juvenile record, his or her mental and physical condition, and other factors.

Child in Need of Assistance (CINA) - A child is in need of assistance if he or she has been physically, sexually, or emotionally abused or neglected by a parent or other person who is responsible for the child’s care.

Child in Need of Supervision (CINS) – A child is in need of supervision if he or she has committed a crime applicable only to children, such as truancy, violation of curfew laws, running away, habitual disobedience, and ungovernable behavior.

Termination of Parental Rights and Adoptions – If the Juvenile Court has already found a child to be a CINA or a CINS, and the Department of Social Services (DSS) has located an adoptive family for the child, the Juvenile Court will handle the case to terminate the natural parents' rights and allow for the child’s adoption.

Citations – When a juvenile violates Maryland’s alcoholics beverage laws by possessing alcohol, by misrepresenting his or her age to purchase alcohol, or by drinking or possessing intoxicating beverages on school premises, the juvenile receives a citation requiring him or her to appear in Juvenile Court.

Contributing – An adult who contributes, encourages, or causes a child to be a delinquent, a CINA, or a CINS, may be charged with the crime of contributing in Juvenile Court.

Interstate Compact – The Juvenile Court handles cases of children who run away across state lines. The Interstate Compact on Juveniles governs these cases.

Compulsory Public School Attendance – The Juvenile Court may handle cases arising under Maryland’s Compulsory Public School Attendance laws.