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Juvenile Waiver Hearings in Maryland Are a Critical Stage in the Proceedings

When persons under the age of 18 are criminally charged as adults in Maryland, the defendant has the right to ask the adult court to “waive” the defendant back to juvenile court. A successful waiver hearing could be life changing to a minor defendant.

Take, for example, the recent case of white supremacist Calvin Lockner. Lockner and two minors were recently arrested in a high-profile attack of a 77 year old black fisherman named James Privott. All three men were charged as adults. My client, Emmanuel Miller 16 and the other minor defendant Zachary Watson asked a Circuit Court Judge to transfer each of their cases from adult court to juvenile court. The court was persuaded by my argument and sent Miller’s case to juvenile court. Watson, who was represented by a different attorney, did not fair so well and is being prosecuted as an adult.

The effect on each of their lives is profound. Privott, for example, has agreed to a plea bargain of 31 years. My client Miller, on the other hand, will be provided social services, vocational training and educational services up to his 21st birthday. How his life turns out beyond that is any one’s guess, but there is hope. Because of a successful juvenile waiver hearing, this young man will not be warehoused for the next 30 years of his life.

When considering whether a case should be kept in adult court or juvenile court, a Maryland Circuit Court Judge will consider 5 factors:

1) Age of defendant at the time of the defense

2) Physical and Mental Condition of the defendant

3) Amenability to treatment- Does the defendant have the ability and willingness to benefit from available treatment programs?

4) Nature of Charges and Defendant’s Role- The worse the crime, the harder the argument.

5) Publicic Safety- The Court decides whether keeping a case in Circuit Court better protects the public from a dangerous defendant.

Finally, having an experienced Maryland criminal defense attorney who understands the issues is critical to a successful waiver petition.

For more information on Maryland juvenile waivers, please contact us for a complimentary consultation.