The primary function of the Juvenile Division is to prosecute individuals under the age of 18 who commit offenses which would be crimes if committed by an adult. While the State's Attorney's Office focuses on prosecuting juveniles, the juvenile laws provide for a program of treatment, training and rehabilitation for juvenile offenders, as opposed to criminal sanctions.
The staff of the Juvenile Division work closely with the court, victims, families and social service agencies to ensure both that the juvenile offender is not tainted by a criminal record and the interest of the public is protected. In certain cases, due to serious nature of the crime, a juvenile offender's case is sent directly to the adult court where adult penalties apply.
A case against a juvenile is first referred to the Department of Juvenile Justice in Bel Air. Case workers in that office may dispose of the case by what is known as an informal disposition.
There are basically only three ways that a juvenile's case comes to the State's Attorney's Office:
It is a felony
It is referred by the Division of Juvenile Justice
The victim of the crime or complainant requests the State's Attorney's Office to review the decision of the Department of Juvenile Justice