If a child is adjudicated delinquent – that is, found guilty (though the juvenile systems does not actually use the terms guilty or not guilty) – he or she may be placed on probation. Probation is an alternative to commitment which requires a child to satisfy certain terms, such as weekly meetings with a counselor, or completion of a given program, or some hours of community service. The exact terms can vary widely, as can the time frame over which probation must be completed. Failure to meet the terms of probation may result in more punitive measures, up to and including commitment.
In Maryland, the length of probation is not limited by law. So courts may place a child on indefinite probation, up to when that child turns 21, the upper age limit of juvenile jurisdiction.
ACY believes terms of probation, including the length of probation, should be reasonable and likely to result in a successful completion. No one set of terms is appropriate for every case, but high rates of failure of probation is an indication that there is a problem to be examined. We work to understand what works and what doesn’t in juvenile probation.