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What are status offenses in Maryland?

Juveniles can be detained for offenses that are not considered crimes for adults. A status offense is an activity considered harmful to minors. These generally include:

-- Consuming or possessing alcohol-- Purchasing cigarettes-- Violating curfew, which is the time by which juveniles are no longer allowed on the streets-- Truancy, which is an unexcused school absence.

Maryland also includes being ungovernable, conduct beyond control, disobedience and endangering self or others in its list of status offenses.

The highest age a child's conduct can be considered a status offense here in Maryland is 17. However, this varies by state. In Virginia, for example, the maximum age to be considered a juvenile is 18.

Often, juveniles detained for committing status offenses are placed in some sort of diversionary program outside the juvenile justice system such as Children in Need of Supervision, commonly known as CHINS. This "deinstitutionalization" is intended to help young people get on the straight and narrow while avoiding criminal proceedings and possible incarceration, which could exacerbate a young person's behavioral issues.

If your child has been charged with a status offense, you should never assume that his or her case won't remain in the juvenile justice system and that your child won't face detainment in a juvenile facility. It's also essential to know whether, as a parent or guardian, you can be held legally responsible for your child's alleged activities. An experienced Maryland criminal defense attorney can provide guidance for you and your child to minimize the impact of the charge on his or her future.

Source: FindLaw, "Juveniles and Age ("Status") Offenses," accessed May 09, 2017

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