The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court held this week that prosecutors cannot request a continuance in a juvenile case for the sole purpose of delaying disposition in order to extend commitment time past a delinquent juvenile’s 18th birthday—unless such an extension is proven necessary for rehabilitation purposes.

Under Massachusetts G. L. c 119, §58, a delinquent juvenile who is 17 years or younger may be committed to the Department of Youth Services until he or she turns 18. However, if a juvenile is disposed of after he or she turns 18, then the juvenile court judge can order commitment up until age 19.