Journalist's Guide

Juvenile Court The Juvenile Court handles cases involving youths who are under age 18. The court has jurisdiction even if the youth turns 18 before the case is adjudicated, and jurisdiction continues until the age of 21. Cases fall within these categories:

Child in Need of Assistance (CINA) , involving a juvenile who has been physically, sexually, or emotionally abused or neglected by someone responsible for their care, or victims of sex trafficking.

Child in Need of Supervision (CINS) , involving a juvenile who has committed such an offense as truancy, violation of curfew laws, running away, habitual disobedience or ungovernable behavior; citations which violate the alcoholic beverages laws, such as possessing liquor or misrepresenting one’s age to obtain it, or drinking on school grounds; children who run away across state lines, either into or out of Maryland; violations of compulsory public school attendance; emergency medical treatment; termination of parental rights; and Department of Social Services adoptions.

Maryland’s counties and Baltimore City have juvenile courts, which are part of each Circuit Court. The Juvenile Court also has jurisdiction over adults charged with contributing to conditions that cause a child to be delinquent or CINA.

The goal of Juvenile Court is to give children and parents the treatment and resources they need to stop cycles of delinquent behavior, end abuse and neglect and provide medical care so the children have the opportunity to become productive citizens, rather than graduate to adult criminal court or suffer chronic, life-threatening abuse and neglect. To shield juveniles from the “taint of criminality,” delinquency proceedings are civil, not criminal; and special terms are used for the parties and phases of the proceeding:

Criminal Court

Juvenile Court






adjudicatory hearing

the defendant pleads guilty/not guilty

the juvenile may admit/deny


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