In the State of Maryland, juveniles as young as 14 years old will be automatically charged as adults for a number of crimes under Maryland Courts and Judicial Proceedings §3-8A-03.  These crimes are:

  1. First and Second-Degree Murder as well as Attempted Murders (for First Degree Murder the juvenile must be at least 14 years old);
  2. First and Second-Degree Rape as well as Third degree Sex Offense and attempts to commit these offenses (for First Degree Rape the juvenile must be at least 14 years old);
  3. First Degree Assault (juvenile must be at least 16 years old);
  4. Abduction and Kidnapping (juvenile must be at least 16 years old);
  5. Many firearms and handgun related offenses (juvenile must be at least 16 years old);
  6. Manslaughter (juvenile must be at least 16 years old); and
  7. Robbery and Carjacking as well as attempts to commit robbery (juvenile must be at least 16 years old).

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With the exception of First Degree Murder, these offenses may be initially charged in the adult court system but the juvenile’s attorney may file a transfer motion under Maryland Criminal Procedure §4-202 and request that the court order that the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services conduct an evaluation and submit a report to the court which is then followed by a hearing, known as a transfer hearing, where a judge of the Circuit Court of the jurisdiction where the offense allegedly took place decides whether the case should remain in the adult system of transferred to the juvenile system.  Unfortunately, First Degree Murder, which includes Felony Murder and accomplice liability theories, does not allow a juvenile to make such a request but there may be other options available.

At a transfer hearing the juvenile and their attorney have the burden of showing it is more likely than not that the juvenile can be redeemed through the services available in the juvenile system.  During this hearing the court can receive testimony, from witnesses and even the juvenile if appropriate, as well as exhibits and other forms of physical evidence.  The juvenile has the right to remain silent throughout the proceeding and it is not uncommon for a juvenile to do so.  In deciding a transfer hearing, the court is required to consider five factors in making their determination.

These five factors are:

  1. The age of the child;
  2. The mental and physical condition of the child;
  3. The amenability of the child to treatment in juvenile programs;
  4. The nature of the alleged crime; and
  5. The public Safety.

In The Press

The Baltimore Sun talks to COHEN | HARRIS LLC to find out how Transfer Hearings work.

Although all these factors are weighed equally recent developments in the law surrounding transfer hearings has put a strong emphasis on the amenability of the juvenile to the services offered in the juvenile system.  What this means is the court is looking to determine whether the juvenile is open and receptive to the services being offered in the juvenile system and will benefit from them.  In the past juveniles would often be denied a transfer to the juvenile system simply because the crimes they were charged with were considered outrageous and heinous in the eyes of the court, but these recent changes have moved the focus away from the charges to the juvenile themselves.

If you or a loved one could benefit from discussing juvenile transfer or other options available to juveniles charged as adults feel free to contact our office.  Our attorneys handle cases involving juveniles charged with serious offenses and violent crimes on a regular basis.  Do not let any concerns prevent you from seeking help, we have handled a substantial number of cases involving sensitive issues and understand how hard it is to reach out.  We can be reached at 888-585-7979 or