Massachusetts law about the juvenile justice system

A compilation of laws, regulations, cases, and web sources on juvenile justice system law by the Trial Court Law Libraries.
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Massachusetts laws

Child Requiring Assistance (CRA)

MGL c.119, s.21

MGL c.119, s.39E-39J

St.2012, c.240

Delinquent children

MGL c.119, s.52-74 

St. 2018, c.69, s.72-74, 77-79. Increases the minimum age for a child to be found delinquent from 7 to 12

St. 2013, Ch. 84
An Act Expanding Juvenile Jurisdiction. Places 17-year-olds accused of crimes under the jurisdiction of the state’s juvenile courts

St.2014, c.189
Juvenile Life Sentences for First Degree Murder. Amends existing law to permit parole for juveniles serving life sentences for first degree murder

Juvenile Court

Massachusetts Juvenile Court Department

Court rules

Juvenile Court rules

Forms

Juvenile Court forms

Selected cases

Comm. v. Baez, 480 Mass. 328 (2018)
Juvenile offenses can be used as predicate offenses for enhanced penalties.

Comm. v. Cole C., 92 Mass. App. Ct. 653 (2018)
Discusses in detail the jurisdiction of the Juvenile Court over individuals who are indicted as youthful offenders after they turn 18.

Comm. v. Gavin G., 437 Mass. 470 (2002)
"The SJC held that while Juvenile Court judges do have the authority to order expungement of police records, no such authority exists to order expungement of probation records."

Comm. v. J.A., a juvenile, 478 Mass. 385 (2017)
A juvenile cannot be indicted as a youthful offender based on charges of cruelty to animals and bestiality, "given that the language in G. L. c. 199, § 54, the youthful offender statute, allowing a juvenile to be tried as a youthful offender for an offense involving the infliction of "serious bodily harm," does not apply to animal as well as human victims."

Comm. v. Smith, 471 Mass. 161 (2015)
Going forward, 17 year olds "must be afforded a meaningful opportunity to consult with an interested adult before waiving Miranda rights."

Deal v. Commissioner of Correction, (Deal I) 475 Mass. 307 (2016); and Deal II, 478 Mass. 332 (2017)
Dept. of Correction must consider juvenile homicide offenders' suitability for minimum security classification on a case-by-case basis. Describes the classification process in great detail.

Kenniston v. Dept. of Youth Services, 453 Mass. 179 (2009)
The SJC held that the law permitting DYS to hold 18 year olds for an additional 3 years if they "would be physically dangerous to the public" (G. L. c. 120, §§ 17-19) is unconstitutional "because it violates substantive due process requirements."

Millis Public Schools v. M.P., 478 Mass. 767 (2018)
CRA/Truancy. We conclude that a child "willfully fails to attend school" when he or she acts purposefully, such that his or her behavior arises from reasons portending delinquent behavior.." The court vacated a CRA judgment where "where nothing in the record suggested that the child's behavior exhibited problems or tendencies that could lead toward juvenile delinquency, and where nothing in the record showed that a modification of the child's custody arrangements would help improve the child's attendance record."

Sentencing

Comm. v. Perez, 477 Mass. 677 (2017)
"Where a juvenile is sentenced for a nonmurder offense or offenses and the aggregate time to be served prior to parole eligibility exceeds that applicable to a juvenile convicted of murder, the sentence cannot be reconciled with art. 26 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights unless, after a hearing considering the appropriate factors, the judge makes a finding that the circumstances warrant treating the juvenile more harshly for parole purposes than a juvenile convicted of murder."

Diatchenko v. District Attorney for the Suffolk Dist., 466 Mass. 655 (2013)
The SJC concluded "that the imposition of a sentence of life without the possibility of parole on juveniles who are under the age of eighteen when they commit the crime of murder in the first degree is unconstitutional..."

Diatchenko v. District Attorney for the Suffolk Dist., 471 Mass. 12 (2015)
Juvenile homicide offenders serving mandatory sentences of life without parole have a right to counsel at their initial parole hearing, including the right to have counsel appointed if they are indigent. They also have the right to "public funds, if they are indigent, in order to secure reasonably necessary expert assistance at their initial parole hearing." In addition, a juvenile homicide offender who is denied parole has a right to obtain judicial review of the parole board's decision through an action in the nature of certiorari, brought in the Superior Court.

Web sources

Child Requiring Assistance Cases, Mass. Juvenile Court.
Find out what will happen in court, who may be involved, and what your rights are as a parent, legal guardian, or custodian in a Child Requiring Assistance (CRA) case.

Juvenile Justice Standards, IJA-ABA, 1996 
These standards were designed by the Institute of Judicial Administration and the American Bar Association to establish the best possible juvenile justice system for our society. 

Massachusetts Juvenile Arrest Procedures, effective July 13, 2018, Municipal Police Training Committee
Arrest, detention, and bail procedures for children 12-18.

Quick Reference on CRA (Child Requiring Assistance), Children's Law Center, June 1, 2013 
A handy guide for child advocates in Massachusetts

Contact

Phone

Within Massachusetts only

Within Massachusetts only

Online

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Address

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Boston, MA 02108
Last updated: September 6, 2018

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