An Act To Clarify the Right to Counsel for Juveniles and Improve Due Process for Juveniles
Sec. 1. 15 MRSA §3101, sub-§2, as amended by PL 2017, c. 127, §1, is further amended to read:
Sec. 2. 15 MRSA §3306, sub-§1, as amended by PL 1977, c. 664, §25, is repealed and the following enacted in its place:
(1) Detention, adjudicatory and dispositional hearings; and
(2) Post-dispositional proceedings, including appeal, post-conviction review and judicial review of commitment.
Sec. 3. 15 MRSA §3313, as amended by PL 1995, c. 690, §5, is further amended to read:
§ 3313. Mandatory criteria for imposing an institutional disposition
(1) Conditions at the facility with respect to the juvenile's safety, health and welfare;
(2) Inability of the facility to timely provide all medically necessary and rehabilitative medical and mental health care to the juvenile;
(3) Inability of the facility to provide the education to which the juvenile is entitled, including under an individualized education plan pursuant to Title 20-A, chapter 303; or
(4) Any other reason related to the juvenile's best interests.
Sec. 4. 15 MRSA §3314, sub-§1, ¶F, as amended by PL 2001, c. 696, §4, is further amended to read:
Sec. 5. 15 MRSA §3314, sub-§1, ¶H, as amended by PL 2007, c. 96, §5, is further amended to read:
Sec. 6. 15 MRSA §3315, as amended by PL 2013, c. 234, §10, is further amended to read:
§ 3315. Right to periodic review
The court may convene a prehearing conference to clarify any disputed issues and to review the possibility of a less restrictive alternative to incarceration. The court shall consider the report made by the department in accordance with subsection 1, hear evidence and consider the reason for the original disposition made under sections 3313 and 3314 and efforts made by the parties since then.
After a hearing or by agreement, the court shall make written findings that determine:
The court may make any other order it is authorized to make pursuant to section 3314.
Sec. 7. 15 MRSA §3316, sub-§2, ¶A, as repealed and replaced by PL 1999, c. 127, Pt. B, §6, is amended to read:
Sec. 8. 15 MRSA §3402, sub-§1, as amended by PL 2015, c. 100, §3, is further amended to read:
Sec. 9. 15 MRSA §3405, sub-§2, as amended by PL 2015, c. 100, §5, is further amended to read:
Sec. 10. 34-A MRSA §3805, sub-§1, as amended by PL 1999, c. 583, §31, is further amended to read:
Currently, Maine has no minimum age at which a child may be prosecuted for a crime. The purpose of this bill is to prevent children under 12 years of age from being prosecuted for crimes, to prevent children under 14 years of age from being incarcerated, to eliminate the current requirement that, if committed, a juvenile must be committed for at least a year and to prevent courts from imposing dispositions against juveniles that involve commitment without exhausting all other less restrictive alternatives. The bill also mandates regular opportunities for judicial review of a juvenile’s commitment in addition to providing an appellate avenue for relief from unfavorable reviews.
The bill provides that if a court imposes a disposition that involves incarceration, the court must conduct a detailed analysis on the record explaining the rationale for the disposition. Such a disposition is authorized only if the court finds certain criteria by clear and convincing evidence. If the court commits a juvenile to a facility, the bill requires periodic judicial review of the incarceration to ensure that the rehabilitative purposes of incarceration are not being outweighed by the harm caused by incarceration.
The overarching goal of this bill is to ensure that fewer children are in the juvenile justice system and that, if and when they do become involved in the system, there is a presumption against incarceration and a requirement for the regular review of any commitment imposed, in order to minimize the harm that incarceration can cause children.
This bill amends the statute governing a juvenile's right to counsel to specify that the right to counsel attaches at the juvenile's initial appearance and continues until the court no longer has jurisdiction over the juvenile, including all post-dispositional hearings and during the time of commitment. This bill also requires counsel appointed by the court to continue to represent the juvenile throughout all proceedings concerning the juvenile, unless relieved by the court.