Baltimore County State’s Attorney Welcomes Juvenile Law Reform

Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger has expressed his satisfaction with the passage of juvenile law reform legislation, House Bill 814, during the recent legislative session in Annapolis. The new law aims to address various aspects of prosecuting and rehabilitating juvenile offenders.

Shellenberger highlighted several key provisions of the bill, including the addition of handgun charges and committing a sex offense in the third degree to the list of crimes that can be charged to juveniles as young as 10, 11, or 12 years old. Additionally, the legislation expands the scope of car theft offenses for juvenile prosecution.

Furthermore, the law introduces the Children in Need of Supervision (CINS) program, allowing authorities to compel parents or guardians to participate in the courtroom proceedings involving their children. This measure is intended to increase parental involvement and accountability in the juvenile justice process.

Notably, the reform mandates a pre-detention hearing for juveniles in the custody of the Department of Juvenile Services (DJS) who are charged with a first-time gun offense. Shellenberger emphasized that this provision grants prosecutors greater authority in such cases.

Another significant change introduced by the bill is the extension of the length of time juveniles can be placed on probation, providing a longer period for supervision and rehabilitation efforts.

Shellenberger also addressed concerns regarding juvenile sex offenders, stating that the law prohibits them from attending regular schools and requires them to enroll in specialized educational institutions. This measure follows a case where a student on the sex offender registry was attending a regular school in Baltimore City.

Overall, the Baltimore County State’s Attorney views the juvenile law reform as a positive step in addressing various aspects of the juvenile justice system, aiming to enhance accountability, expand prosecutorial powers, and prioritize rehabilitation efforts for young offenders.