Journalist's Guide

involvement in offense



a judge presides over the trial

a judge or magistrate may preside over the hearing, depending on the county where the case is heard

Magistrates are family law experts who conduct juvenile hearings. Magistrates make recommendations to a judge as to how the case should be decided. The judge may accept or reject those recommendations. For instance, in Montgomery County, judges rather than magistrates hear juvenile cases. Magistrates are authorized by Maryland law to hear certain cases, as assigned by a Circuit Court. Most typical are family law, child in need of assistance and juvenile delinquency cases. Magistrate determinations are made as recommendations for adoption by a judge. If a party disagrees with the recommendations, written exceptions are filed for consideration by a judge, after opportunity for a hearing. The judge may issue a ruling consistent with the judge’s independent consideration of the questioned recommendations of the magistrate. Delinquency cases usually start with the filing of a petition, which is the charging document, followed by an adjudicatory hearing. If the child is considered dangerous or is a runaway, proceedings in Juvenile Court begin with a detention hearing. The judge or magistrate may detain the juvenile in a secure facility pending the adjudicatory hearing, or more frequently supervise the youth in the community. If the juvenile is not detained, the adjudicatory hearing must take place within 60 days after the youth was arraigned or counsel entered their appearance. Some counties, however, may require a hearing with counsel before adjudication to advise the child and their parents about their rights and about the charges as well as to make decisions about attorney representation. If it is found the child committed the alleged acts, a disposition hearing is held. This hearing determines two key issues: whether the child is in need of guidance, treatment or rehabilitation and, if so, whether the child is delinquent. Steps to Resolving a Case in Juvenile Court Delinquency Cases

If the child is determined to be delinquent, the court determines the care, rehabilitation or treatment the child needs. The court may order the services of the Department of Juvenile


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