Articles Posted in Juvenile Causes

According to the Pew Research Center, nearly all U.S. teens say they use the internet every day, with almost half reporting they are online “almost constantly.” As every parent knows, the internet is a double-edged sword: it is an incredibly useful tool, but it is fraught with potential danger for our children—especially when unsupervised.  

Our client is a high school student in Maryland who, facing difficult mental health issues, found himself in the middle of a “catfishing” scandal. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children received a report from several internet sites for potential “self-exploitation” by a user. Allegedly, our client used photographs that female classmates posted online to create profiles on various websites and have explicit conversations with others online. As a result of the reports, the police began an investigation. 

Though we opened a line of communication with the State’s Attorney’s Office to prevent charges from being brought, the prosecutor filed a juvenile delinquency petition alleging our client violated Maryland’s identity theft statue, Crim. Law § 8-301(c)(2). That statute makes it a crime to “knowingly and willfully assum[e] the identity of another person…with the fraudulent intent to…obtain a benefit, credit, good, service, or other thing of value.” Prosecutors typically use this statute as a tool to hold defendants accountable for using another’s identity to open a credit card, or other similar offenses. 

After the petition was filed, we analyzed the case law and presented a strong legal defense. Though the conduct seemed reflexively “bad,” the facts did not meet the legal elements of the identity theft statute. Put simply, “value” is an essential element of identity fraud. Parks v. State, 259 Md. App. 109, 120 (2023). Because the punishments for identity theft are premised on theft between $100 and $1,500, “value” necessarily means monetary value. See Md. Crim. Law. § 8-301(g). Effectively marshaling our argument, we convinced the State’s Attorney’s Office that the explicit conversations could not legally satisfy the monetary value element and that their case was insufficient to adjudicate our client as a delinquent. As a result of our advocacy, the prosecutor dismissed the charges at a pre-trial conference, over strong objections by the complainants and their families. 


If you have a juvenile criminal case or investigation that you would like to discuss, or have questions about identity theft in general, please call Eric Bacaj, Esq. at (443) 909-7503. 

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I have a current case that highlights the significant fork in the criminal justice road when juveniles are charged as adults. Zachary Watson (17) and Emmanuel Miller (16) are the 2 juveniles who were with alleged Neo-Nazi Calvin Lockner when he attacked an elderly black fisherman in Baltimore city this year. It was reported widely in the national media as a hate crime. Lockner, age 28, has already pled to 31 years in adult court.

Both Watson and Miller asked to be waived back to Juvenile Court. I represented Miller and requested his case be transferred to juvenile court. Watson made the same request. After a hearing, Miller’s request was granted and Watson’s denied. Since that time, Watson has been stabbed in prison and is constantly harassed by guards and inmates while awaiting trial. He is likely to get a significant sentence on 1/25/11 in adult court. The odds against Watson leading a productive life after prison are not favorable to say the least.

Miller, on the other hand, is a star in the juvenile system. Unlike the adult system, the juvenile system focuses on rehabilitation. He has been given 3 successful weekend furloughs from commitment. He has earned his GED while committed, plays on the football team and has received glowing reports from his teachers and counselors. By every indication, the judge who presides over his rehabilitation is so happy with his progress he is going to release Miller on probation next month.

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.
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As a Maryland criminal defense lawyer, I am often asked by parents whether they can be held financially responsible for the crimes of their children. The answer is YES. MAryland Juvenile Courts have the authority to order up to $10,000.00 in restitution to victims as part of any disposition. If the court finds, for example, that a person’s property was damaged, stolen or destroyed because of a minors delinquent act, the minor and the parents can be held on the hook for up to $10,000.00. This award may include other types of restitution such as the victim’s medical bills in an assault or battery case, or even funeral expenses.

For more information, please contact our criminal lawyers for a complimentary consultation.

In Maryland Juvenile Court, in an effort to “soften” the blow to minors. Different terms are used to describe the process. In juvenile criminal court, a defendant is a “respondent”. The Charging document is a “petition” not an “indictment”. Juveniles do not get tried, rather they have an “adjudicatory hearing”. If found guilty, the minor is not convicted of a crime but rather is “found delinquent”.

If a child is found delinquent, the child is either supervised for a probation period, or committed (not incarcerated) to the department of Juvenile Services. Because the term incarceration is taboo in the juvenile system, the commitment is reviewed regularly by a judge.

For more information, or a free consultation, please contact the Maryland criminal lawyers of Silverman, Thompson, Slutkin & White, LLC. or call Steve Silverman at 410-385-2226.

Maryland’s Juvenile Courts handle cases involving most minors-youths who are under age 18. The court has jurisdiction even if the youth turns 18 before the case is adjudicated, and jurisdiction continues until the age of 21. In some instances, cases can start in adult criminal court and wind up in juvenile court. Cases involving children 16 years old or older charged only with traffic violations that do not carry a possible penalty of incarceration are not heard in Juvenile Court. These cases are heard on the regular traffic docket in District Court. Cases involving children 14 or older who are charged with an offense that if committed by an adult is punishable by death or life imprisonment go directly to criminal court. These cases are heard on the regular Circuit Court docket.

Certain cases involving serious charges against children 16 and older, including murder, rape, kidnapping, armed robbery, carjacking, certain hangun violations and certain sexual offenses, also go to criminal court. Such cases can be transferred from criminal to Juvenile Court, and there are also provisions to allow certain juvenile cases to be transferred to criminal court.
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The answer to the question is yes, in Maryland a 16 or 17 year old can be charged as an adult. In fact if the if it is alleged that the juvenile committed the robbery with a dangerous and deadly weapon, original jurisdiction lies with the adult system in the Circuit Court. If there is no allegation that a weapon was used, the juvenile could only be charged as an adult upon the granting of a motion filed by the State to do so.

I had a case that illustrated this jurisdictional issue this week in the Circuit Court for Baltimore County. My client, who was just 16 years, 8 days old at the time of the alleged offense is charged with robbery with a dangerous and deadly weapon, robbery, assault and wear carry or transport a deadly weapon. He and three co-defendants were all charged with the alleged knife robbery of a man in his mid forties. I will explain the facts in a moment, but a brief overview of the juvenile versus adult jurisdiction, a topic about which I have blogged in the past, should be helpful.
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Maryland Criminal Attorney – Maryland Criminal Lawyer – Baltimore Criminal Attorney – Baltimore Criminal Lawyer – I had a client today who is 16 years old and is alleged to have committed a robbery with a knife. He is charged as an adult which was confusing and disturbing to both him and his parents. I explained to them that a juvenile can be charged as an adult in the first instance (that is original jurisdiction vests with the Circuit Court) if the person is charged with second degree murder, second or third degree sex offenses, second or third degree rape, most handgun charges, armed robbery, kidnapping, involuntary manslaughter, carjacking, first degree assault, attempted murder, robbery or rape or any other felony if the juvenile has been previously adjudicated as an adult. A child of the age of 14 or 15 will also be charged in the first instance as an adult if he or she is charged with an offense which carries either life imprisonment or the death penalty if committed by an adult which includes first degree murder, first degree rape or sexual offense or any attempts of these offenses. Also in any other case a 15 year old can be tried as an adult if the court grants the State’s motion for waiver of jurisdiction. The State will sometimes file these motions for cases of possession with the intent to distribute cocaine, heroin, marijuana or other drugs or other felonies if the juvenile has a particularly bad record. Once this motion is filed the court will order the Department of Juvenile Services to conduct a study of the juvenile and will make it’s determination as to whether to order the case to be transferred to the adult system based on five factors: the age of the child, the mental an physical condition of the child, the child’s ameniability to treatment, the nature of the offense and the child’s participation in it and the public safety.
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