by
The Supreme Court affirmed the ruling of the court of appeals that the State failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that K.M. committed first degree sexual assault under Neb. Rev. Stat. 28-319. The separate juvenile court adjudicated K.M. as being a juvenile who committed an act that would constitute a felony by committing first degree sexual assault based on the victim’s lack of capacity. The court of appeals concluded that the juvenile court erred in finding that K.M. subjected the victim to sexual penetration because the State failed to prove that K.M. knew or should have known that the victim was mentally or physically incapable of resisting or appraising the nature of his conduct. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the State failed to prove that the victim actually lacked the capacity to consent. View "In re Interest of K.M." on Justia Law

by
R.M., a “mouthy 17-year-old high school student with an abysmal school attendance record,” refused to get out of bed. Her mother called the school’s diversion officer, who had worked with R.M. previously. Officers drove her to school. Standing in the parking lot, she refused to obey a deputy’s order to go inside to class; she started to leave. She was then handcuffed, arrested and escorted to juvenile hall where she was held for two days. The juvenile court sustained allegations that R.M. violated Penal Code 148 by resisting, delaying or obstructing a peace officer in performing his duties. It declared her a delinquent ward of the juvenile court under Welfare and Institutions Code 602,1 ordered her confined for 15 days to juvenile hall, and then placed on probation. The court of appeal reversed the jurisdictional finding. R.M. did not violate Penal Code 148, because the deputy was not performing a legal duty when he ordered her to class. “However well-intentioned the officer no doubt was, and despite the difficult predicament in which school authorities were placed,” the proper recourse was for school officials to pursue a declaration of wardship under section 601(b) for habitual truancy (which they eventually did), not resort to the criminal law. View "In re R.M." on Justia Law

by
Evan Bacon, a juvenile, pleaded guilty to second degree robbery and received a suspended disposition. The State challenged the juvenile court's authority to enter such a disposition, arguing that the Juvenile Justice Act of 1977 (JJA), chapter 13.40 RCW, does not give trial courts the statutory authority to suspend juvenile dispositions (except in specific situations that are absent here). The Court of Appeals agreed, and so did the Washington Supreme Court. The Court therefore affirmed, holding that juvenile court judges lack statutory authority to suspend JJA dispositions, even manifest injustice JJA dispositions, unless the disposition fits under one of the specifically listed exemptions in RCW 13.40.160(10). View "Washington v. Bacon" on Justia Law

by
In a wardship petition under Welfare and Institutions Code 602, W.R. admitted possession of a dagger and was made a ward of the court. Subsequent petitions alleged vandalism, truancy, probation violations, and other matters. After a seventh petition, alleging assault by means of force likely to cause great bodily injury, W.R. was found not competent to stand trial. After an out-of-state placement, W.R. moved to seal his juvenile records. The court of appeal concluded the records in a case dismissed as part of a plea bargain with another case should have been sealed and that the court had discretion under section 786(e)(1) to seal records pertaining to another petition in which the allegations were not sustained; but did not have the discretion to seal records pertaining to a petition filed after the last petition for which the minor was placed on probation. The California Supreme Court remanded for reconsideration in light of amendment to section 786(e), effective January 1, 2018: “If a person who has been alleged to be a ward of the juvenile court has his or her petition dismissed by the court,... or if the petition is not sustained ... the court shall order sealed all records pertaining to the dismissed petition. The court of appeal concluded that amended section 786(e) should apply prospectively to a minor’s case on remand and requires sealing of W.R.’s records. View "In re W.R." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the district court’s denial of Defendant’s motion to modify his original sentence after a new individualized sentencing hearing and remanded for a new individualized sentencing hearing. Defendant was seventeen years old when he and his friend robbed and murdered a hitchhiker. Defendant was sentenced to life imprisonment with a consecutive twenty-to-fifty-year sentence for aggravated robbery. Following the decisions in Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012), Montgomery v. Louisiana, __ U.S. __ (2016), and Bear Cloud v. State, 294 P.3d 36 (Wyo. 2013), and the Wyoming Legislature’s amendment to Wyo. Stat. Ann. 6-10-301(c), Defendant was granted parole from his life sentence and began serving his consecutive twenty-to-fifty-year sentence. Defendant received a new individualized sentencing hearing, after which the district court declined to modify Defendant’s original sentence. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded for an additional sentencing hearing because at the time of the hearing and the district court’s decision, the parties and the district court did not have the advantage of this Court’s rulings concerning the procedure, burdens, and potentially relevant evidence for a Miller determination contained within this opinion. View "Davis v. State" on Justia Law

by
Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 119, 72A permits a juvenile court judge to transfer lesser included offenses when supported by probable cause even where lesser included offenses are not expressly charged. In 2014, juvenile delinquency complaints were issued against Defendant for the crime of rape of a child with force for incidents that occurred when Defendant was sixteen years old. Because Defendant was not “apprehended” until after his nineteenth birthday, the juvenile court judge was faced with discharging Defendant or transferring the charges to adult court. The judge dismissed the offenses charged for lack of probable cause but transferred the lesser included offenses of statutory rape. Defendant filed a petition for relief pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211, 3. The Supreme Judicial Court held that because the judge in this case did not inform Defendant of her probable cause rulings on the offenses charged or the lesser included offenses until her decision on the transfer itself, Defendant was not given a meaningful opportunity to present evidence and argument why discharge rather than transfer of the statutory rape charges was consistent with protection of the public. Therefore, Defendant was entitled to reopen the transfer hearing in order to present such evidence and argument. View "J.H. v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

by
In January 2017, Carlos (born September 2001) and an older male participated in a gang-related Santa Rosa shooting. The 18-year-old victim was standing in a driveway when the two passed in a car, parked, and approached. After a verbal confrontation, they drew firearms and shot five or six times toward the victim, who fled. Carlos admitted to the shooting, claiming the victim had tried to “jump him” a year earlier and that he had “heat for Northerners.” The co-participant drove the car and provided the firearm. The District Attorney filed a petition (Welfare and Institutions Code 602(a)), alleging that Carlos committed attempted murder and assault with a firearm, with firearm and street gang enhancements. Carlos admitted one count and enhancement; the other counts were dismissed. The juvenile court committed Carlos to the Department of Juvenile Facilities (DJF). The court of appeal reversed. Welfare and Institutions Code 7341 provides that no ward of the juvenile court shall be committed to DJF unless the judge is “fully satisfied that the mental and physical condition and qualifications of the ward are such as to render it probable that he will be benefited by the reformatory educational discipline or other treatment provided by” DJF. Because the record contains no specific information regarding DJF programs, no substantial evidence supported the finding of probable benefit. View "In re Carlos J." on Justia Law

by
In 2011, Barboza was charged with various felonies and enhancement allegations. In 2016, Barboza pleaded guilty to robbery and admitted an armed-with-a-firearm allegation (Pen. Code 12022(a)(1)). The remaining counts and enhancement allegations were dismissed. The information, filed directly in adult court, alleged that at the time of the offense, Barboza was a minor 16 years of age or older, under Welfare and Institutions Code former 707(d)(1).) The court imposed a six-year prison sentence, suspended execution of that sentence, and placed him on formal probation for five years. Barboza did not appeal. Several weeks later, the voters approved Proposition 57, which repealed section 707(d) and requires “a judge, not a prosecutor, to decide whether juveniles should be tried in adult court,” Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act of 2016, 707(a)(1).) Barboza unsuccessfully moved to have his case remanded to the juvenile court. The court of appeal affirmed. While the California Supreme Court has recently held that Proposition 57 is retroactive, that holding does not benefit Barboza because the judgment in his case is final. When a trial court imposes a state prison sentence and suspends execution of that sentence during a probationary period, the judgment rendered is a final judgment for the purposes of appeal. View "People v. Barboza" on Justia Law

by
Grant was 16 years old when he committed crimes that led to his incarceration. He was convicted in 1992 under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and for drug trafficking. The court determined that Grant would never be fit to reenter society and sentenced him to life in prison without the possibility of parole (LWOP) for the RICO convictions with a concurrent 40-year term for the drug convictions and a mandatory consecutive five-year term for a gun conviction. In 2012, the Supreme Court decided, in Miller v. Alabama, that only incorrigible juvenile homicide offenders who have no capacity to reform may be sentenced to LWOP and that all non-incorrigible juvenile offenders are entitled to a “meaningful opportunity to obtain release based on demonstrated maturity and rehabilitation.” The court resentenced Grant to a term of 65 years without parole. Grant argued that the sentence constitutes de facto LWOP. The Third Circuit vacated Grant’s sentence. A sentence that either meets or exceeds a non-incorrigible juvenile offender’s life expectancy violates the Eighth Amendment; courts must hold evidentiary hearings to determine the non-incorrigible juvenile offender’s life expectancy and must consider as sentencing factors his life expectancy and the national age of retirement, with the section 3553(a) factors, to properly structure a meaningful opportunity for release. View "United States v. Grant" on Justia Law

by
In April 2016, M.H. was born with a positive toxicology screening for methamphetamine and cocaine; his mother has a history of substance abuse and psychiatric illness. The identity of his father was unknown. Days later, M.H. was placed in the foster home where he remains. M.H.’s great-aunt E.W., who resides in Minnesota, expressed an interest in having M.H. placed with her. Mother’s services were terminated and E.W’s home was approved. The court granted the foster parents the status of de facto parents.The agency report described M.H. as a happy child with a positive relationship with his foster family; during five visits, the child was comfortable with E.W., who is 66 and has raised five children and has close ties to her extended family. The child welfare worker opined that with proper services M.H. would overcome the grieving process and settle into his new placement and that he had considered culture, heritage, and family connections. M.H. is African-American and his foster family is not. The court of appeal affirmed a ruling in favor of the foster family, rejecting an argument that the court disregarded the statutory preference for relative placement (Welf. & Inst. Code 361.3) in favor of the statutory preference for caretaker placement (section 366.26(k)). Neither preference applies; the trial court was best able to make the hard call of which placement was in M.H.’s best interests. View "In re M.H." on Justia Law