In re M.P.

New Decision

In 2022, Maryland enacted the Juvenile Justice Reform Act (JJRA), which established 13 as the minimum age of juvenile court jurisdiction. The Supreme Court of Maryland granted certiorari in the case of M.P., a youth who was under the age of 13 at the time of their alleged offense, in order to determine whether the statute applies to cases pending at the time of enactment.

Juvenile Law Center joined the Public Justice Center and four other advocacy organizations in filing an amicus brief in the Supreme Court of Maryland, arguing that the jurisdictional limit should apply retroactively. The brief argued that Maryland’s Juvenile Justice Reform Commission recommended a minimum age because it recognized that the juvenile justice system is a developmentally inappropriate response to alleged misbehavior by young children. The brief further argued that the approach of sister states reflects a national trend of setting a minimum age of juvenile court jurisdiction, and that racial and gender equity considerations reinforce the need for retroactive application of the JJRA. 

In a win for Maryland youth, the Supreme Court of Maryland applied the JJRA retroactively and ordered the juvenile court to dismiss M.P.’s case for lack of jurisdiction.