Understanding Delinquency Cases

First Steps in a Delinquency Case

There are two situations in which delinquency petitions are filed in the court:
  1. A child is arrested or detained. The first court hearing, called an Emergency Hearing, will be held no later than the next business day that the Court is in session at 1:30 pm. At that hearing, the Department of Juvenile Services (DJS) gives the Montgomery County State's Attorney's Office authorization to petition, and if the child remains detained, his/her adjudicatory hearing must be tried within 30 days.
  2. A child is arrested and released. The State's Attorney's Office receives authorization from DJS to file a Delinquency Petition with the court, but the child remains in his/her home. The first hearing, called the Preliminary Inquiry Hearing, is typically held on Tuesdays at 8:00 am.

Throughout the case, you will be asked to attend several hearings, including pre-trial, placement status, planning, and review hearings.

There are no jury trials in juvenile court.

Not understanding all this terminology? Visit the glossary.

Participants in a Delinquency Case

The following individuals and agencies participate in delinquency cases:

  • Circuit Court Judges assigned to the Juvenile Rotation preside over juvenile cases and make decisions based on the facts of the case and the applicable law.
  • The Montgomery County State's Attorney’s Office files the petitions and prosecutes the case for Montgomery County.
  • The Respondent is the child in a delinquency case.
  • The attorney for the child represents the child in the delinquency proceeding. Children in delinquency cases are entitled to legal representation at all stages of their proceedings. If the respondent is unable to afford an attorney, he/she may qualify for representation through the Public Defender’s Office:
    Public Defender’s Office Juvenile Protection Division
    191 East Jefferson Street
    Rockville, MD 20850
    Phone: 301-563-8927

If an attorney does not enter his/her appearance within 5 days after you have received notice of the Petition, the Court will appoint an attorney for your child.

Staff from the Department of Juvenile Services (DJS), also known as juvenile caseworkers or probation officers, work with children and their families when the children are charged with delinquent acts. They may supervise juvenile probation if the child is placed on probation or supervise the case if the child is placed in a juvenile facility.

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