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Court Process for Underage DUI Charges in Salisbury

A juvenile charged with a DUI could potentially be going to court for more than a year because the process is longer and the period of probation often includes review hearings that require the juvenile to return to the court for a hearing. The process can be arduous and it is good to know what you will be going into. Call a Salisbury Underage DUI lawyer today.

Juvenile v. Adult DUI Cases in Salisbury

Cases for juveniles and adults are not heard in the same place. For adults charged with a DUI, their cases are automatically scheduled in the District Court for the county where they were stopped. Their case is heard by a judge sitting in the District Court. Depending on if the adult was charged with a DUI, the adult defendant has the right to a jury trial. If they chose to do so, their case goes to trial and takes place in front of a jury.

Juvenile matters are automatically filed within Circuit Court. The District Court does not have jurisdiction over juvenile matters. A juvenile’s case is automatically heard in the Circuit Court for the county where the incident took place. Juveniles do not have the right to a jury trial. Regardless of what they are alleged to have done, they can’t request a jury trial. Their case is heard by a Circuit Court judge.

In some counties, especially on the Eastern Shore, some counties have only one or two Circuit Court judges. If there are multiple judges in that county, there will typically be one judge who is responsible for the juvenile docket.

The juvenile sees the same judge in Salisbury through the length of their case including their review hearings. For an adult charged with a DUI, if the case remains in the District Court, it is possible that their case will probably be resolved in roughly two to three  months, barring any unforeseen circumstances.

How Salisbury Prosecutors Treat Underage DUI

The prosecutors and judges in Salisbury treat the juvenile DUI cases seriously. They are not in the habit of dismissing a DUI, or not filing a formal petition against the juvenile for a DUI.

The consequences, the sentences look very different because adult court and juvenile court are set up to be different. In an adult court, there are several different purposes to a sentence. A sentence is handed down by a judge to punish the individual for their behavior. Sentencing is also done to deter other adults from doing the same behavior.

What happens in adult court is a matter of public record and anyone can find out about it. For example, in Wicomico County, there is a section of the newspaper that routinely publishes the outcome of DUIs in an attempt to deter other adults from driving intoxicated.

Juvenile Court in Salisbury

But in Juvenile Court, the whole system is setup for purposes of rehabilitation and trying to make sure that the youth does not commit the same offense. Nothing is a matter of public record. It is sealed and what happens in Juvenile Court cannot be accessed by the general public coming in to the courthouse. They are not allowed to come into the courthouse and ask to see the juvenile file. There is no goal of public deterrence, because the public doesn’t know what happens to the juvenile.

Whether juvenile sentences are more or less severe than an adult, in many circumstances, it’s almost more severe for the juvenile. Potentially, the juvenile can face the possibility of having to come to court multiple times to participate in review hearings. The court can maintain jurisdiction over a juvenile until they are 21 years of age. That does not typically happen, but the Juvenile Court does have that authority.

Penalties for Underage DUI and Regular DUI

An adult on probation for a DUI can anticipate they are on probation for perhaps two years. A juvenile could potentially be under the supervision of the Department of Juvenile Services for much longer than two years.

With a first offense DUI for a juvenile, the juvenile must complete a period of probation with their Department of Juvenile Services worker. That probation is similar to an adult probation because the juvenile is required to complete substance abuse classes  and meet with their Juvenile Services worker. Juveniles are expected to do well in school, to attend school regularly, and they may have to abide by a curfew.

In that respect, the juvenile probation can look much like an adult’s probation. There are conditions placed on juveniles and adults and they are expected to abide by those conditions.

What Should Parents Expect From This Process

It’s important for parents to understand that this is a long process in juvenile court. Unfortunately for the parent, it could involve a parent travelling back and forth to the court with their child for at least two, if not four, five, or even more times.

It’s a long process and is very cumbersome, especially for a parent who works and perhaps has a limited amount of leave they can access to take their child to court. If a child is under 16 years of age and they’re stopped for DUI, there is the possibility that the child’s case could be handled informally which would mean that the State Attorney’s Office might not file a petition.

It’s a very slim possibility, but it does exist. If that is the case, the parent should realize that full cooperation with the Department of Juvenile Services is incredibly important because the Juvenile Services worker, with the input of the State Attorney’s Office, would  make the decision that that case does not need to have a formal petition filed.

However, for a DUI, the parent should be prepared that a formal petition is filed. One consequence of that for the juvenile is, if they had a license, they are no longer going to have a license. The parent or guardian will be in the position of driving that child everywhere because the child will not be driving himself anywhere.