Under Maryland law, a "child" is defined as any person under the age of 18. 

Read the Law: MD Cts. and Jud. Proc. §3–8A–01


There are some cases where the state courts will treat a child as an adult based on the crime committed. These exceptions include when:

·        A child at least 14 years old has committed a crime that, if committed by an adult, would be punishable by life in prison.

Read the Law: MD Cts. and Jud. Pro. Code Ann. §3-8A-03(d)(1).

·        A child at least 16 years old is charged with any of the following crimes:

Abduction, kidnapping, second degree murder or attempted second degree murder, manslaughter (except involuntary manslaughter), second degree rape or attempted second degree rape, robbery or attempted robbery, second or third degree sexual offense or attempted second degree sexual offense, violations of gun control regulations, gun violations related to a drug trafficking crime, conspiracy or use of a regulated gun in committing a felony, carjacking or armed carjacking, first degree assault, handgun or machine gun violations.

 Read the Law: MD Cts. and Jud. Pro. Code Ann. §3-8A-03(d)(4)(i-xvii).

·        A child has previously been convicted as an adult of a felony and is charged with another felony. 

Read the Law: MD Cts. and Jud. Pro. Code Ann. §3-8A-03(d)(5). 

A Child’s Right to a Lawyer in Juvenile Court

Children who have been charged with committing a delinquent act have the right to a lawyer in juvenile court.  

  • A child has the right to a lawyer at every stage of the juvenile court proceedings.
  • A child’s parents, guardians or custodians can never "waive" (give up) the child’s right to a lawyer.
  • A child can "waive" (give up) his or her right to a lawyer only if:

1.      A petition is filed with the court,

2.      The child has spoken to a lawyer,

3.      While the lawyer is in the room, the child tells the court he/she wants to give up his or her rights to a lawyer, and

4.      The court decides that (a) the child understands what the request means and (b) he/she was not forced to make the request (the request is voluntary).

Read the Law: MD Code Cts. & Jud. Pro. § 3-8A-20 


Edits by Regina Strait, Esq.

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