A Parent's Guide to Juvenile Court
What Happens After Your Child Is Arrested and Needs To Come to Court?
Your child will have an arraignment.
- An arraignment starts the case. At the arraignment, you will find out your child’s next court date, which will be within 30–60 days.
- On the day of arraignment, go to the Public Defender’s Intake Office on the 3rd floor, room 3200.
- Witnesses do not have to be present at the arraignment.
What Happens on the Next Court Date?
- Every case is different. Your child’s lawyer will tell you what to expect on the next court date.
- Cases are assigned to either the 9:30am or 1:30pm docket.
- The Public Defenders do not decide when your child’s case is heard in court.
- Be prepared to stay all morning or all afternoon. The Public Defenders will ask the Court to call your child’s case as early as possible.
- Your child’s case could be extended or postponed. A postponement means you may have to come back to court.
- If you need a letter for work, the Court will provide one upon request.
Will My Child Go Home?
- The Master or Judge will decide if your child will go home. This decision is based on many things including: any prior court cases, if the Court thinks your child will come back to court on the next scheduled court date, and the seriousness of the charges.
- Your child may be allowed to go home on community detention. If the rules of community detention are violated, your child could be put in a secure detention facility.
- If the Master or Judge does not allow your child to go home, the trial or adjudication
- date is scheduled within 30 days. Your child’s lawyer will work with your family to try and get your child home.
- If detained, your child may go to shelter care, which is a non-secure detention facility, or your child may be held in a secure detention facility such as Baltimore City Juvenile Justice Center for boys and Waxter for girls.
- If a Master orders your child detained, a Judge can review this decision.
What If My Child Is Found Guilty?
- In Juvenile Court, children are found facts sustained, this means guilty.
- The Court will then decide on a disposition or sentence.
- Every child’s case is different. Your child’s lawyer will discuss the possible outcomes with you and your child.
Can The Case Be Sealed?
- After your child’s case is complete, you may ask the Court to seal the case. Sealing means the court records are not allowed to be seen by anyone unless a court gives permission.
- Before your child turns 21, you may petition or ask the Court to seal the records, but you must have “good cause” or a good reason for the Court to grant your request, such as applying for a job, applying to college, or joining the military.
- If your child is over 21 years old, you may
- petition the Court to seal the record. No “good cause” is required.
- Please contact your child’s lawyer directly, or the Office of the Public Defender, Juvenile Court Division, so that we can assist in having your child’s juvenile record sealed.
What Is the Role of Your Child’s Lawyer?
- Your child’s lawyer represents your child’s rights and wishes.
- Your child’s lawyer will need to talk to your child alone. This is to protect your child’s rights, not to exclude you.
- Your child’s lawyer does not decide what is best for your child, but is your child’s voice in the courtroom.
What Can You Do To Help?
- Your participation is important to your child’s case.
- Make sure your child is on time for all appointments and court hearings.
- Make sure your child is dressed appropriately for court.
- Make sure your child brings any documents or paperwork the lawyer asks to be brought to court.
- Tell your child’s lawyer if you change your address or phone number.
- Return all phone calls from the lawyer.
- Bring a photo ID and proof of your current address with you each time you come to court.