Baum Law Offices, LLC – Attorney Matthew Baum

Charged as an Adult in Maryland – Transfer Hearing Criteria

This post is the second part of a two part series concerning juveniles charged as adults in Maryland criminal cases. Part 1 can be viewed here.

Motion to Transfer to Juvenile Court

In cases where a juvenile defendant has been charged as an adult in Maryland, the juvenile may request to have his case transferred to juvenile court by filing a motion to transfer. The motion to transfer to juvenile court typically requests that a study be conducted by the jurisdiction’s Department of Juvenile Services and that a hearing be set before a circuit court judge for the purpose of deciding whether or not to grant the motion. It’s important to know that the motion to transfer must be filed shortly after the defendant is arraigned. Missing the filing deadline can cause the juvenile defendant to be stuck in adult court, facing adult consequences. Hence it is important to seek the help of a criminal defense lawyer immediately in cases where a juvenile has been charged as an adult.

Five Factors Test Used at Juvenile Transfer Hearings

At the transfer hearing, the defendant who wants to be transferred to juvenile court must demonstrate by a preponderance of the evidence that he is amenable to treatment and that the five factors outlined in the applicable case law support his being transferred. Given that the juvenile justice system is primarily concerned with rehabilitation, the juvenile’s amenability to treatment is probably the single most important factor the court will consider at the transfer hearing. The other factors include age, mental and physical condition, the facts of the case in which the young person is charged as an adult, and the availability of facilities and programs designed to assist young people like the defendant in the court’s jurisdiction. The defense lawyer should prepare a presentation that addresses each one of these factors in support of having his juvenile client transferred out of circuit court and into juvenile court.

Transfer Hearing Arguments

In short, at the transfer hearing held in circuit court, the judge will hear the defense lawyer’s argument that the juvenile defendant passes the five factors test. The lawyer may call witnesses and present evidence to support his arguments, or he may simply make assertions based on facts available to the court in the report provided by the Department of Juvenile Services. Mental health professionals are sometimes called as expert witnesses to support the defense’s arguments. They can offer their conclusions to the presiding judge concerning whether or not the juvenile defendant is amenable to services that will assist him in becoming a productive member of society. In essence, the defense lawyer’s job is to help the judge to understand that the juvenile defendant is a child and not an adult.

Matthew Baum is a criminal defense attorney with offices in Baltimore and in Columbia, Maryland. If you have questions about your or your loved one’s criminal case, he can be reached at (410) 929-3435. Consultations are free and involve no obligation. All consultations are private and confidential. Evening and weekend appointments are available.