Justia Juvenile Law Opinion Summaries

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Kengi Moses appealed an amended order deferring imposition of sentence entered upon a conditional plea of guilty to unlawful possession of a firearm. The North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed, concluding that Moses’ prior juvenile adjudication qualified as a predicate conviction under the statute prohibiting possession of a firearm following a criminal conviction and that he received due process under the law. View "North Dakota v. Moses" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals concluding that certification of H.B., who was fifteen years old when he was charged in juvenile court with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and first-degree aggravated robbery, for adult prosecution was proper, holding that certification was required.Delinquency petitions were filed charging H.B. with aiding and abetting first-degree aggravated robbery. The State moved to prosecute H.B. as an adult for the charges, but the district court denied the motion, concluding that the dispositional options available to H.B. did not weigh in favor of certification. The court of appeals reversed and remanded with instructions for the district court to certify H.B. for adult prosecution. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the court of appeals correctly found that the district court abused its discretion in determining that the State had not met its burden of proving that retaining H.B. in the juvenile system would not serve public safety. View "In re H.B." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated and set aside Appellant's conviction as a youthful offender and his adjudications of delinquency, holding that the trial judge erred in failing to conduct an inquiry into the jury foreperson's report of "discriminatory comments" being made during deliberations.Appellant, a juvenile, was found guilty for two firearm-related offenses. On appeal, Appellant argued that his right to a trial by a fair and impartial jury was twice violated at his trial. The court of appeals agreed, vacated the judgment and adjudications of delinquency, and set aside the verdicts. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial judge abused his discretion by not conducting a preliminary inquiry into the foreperson's report that the jury remained capable of impartially rendering a verdict; and (2) because it cannot be determined whether comments reflecting racial, ethnic, or other improper bias were made and, if so, whether they created a substantial risk of a miscarriage of justice, the case must be remanded for further proceedings. View "Commonwealth v. Ralph R." on Justia Law

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In December 2018, the juvenile court committed Jhonny to the Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) for a maximum term of confinement of four years after he admitted on a petition under Welfare and Institutions Code section 602 committing felony assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury. In November 2020, Jhonny’s wardship and probation were successfully terminated; in October 2021, the DJJ granted him an honorable discharge. Jhonny sought to have his juvenile record sealed and his petition dismissed under sections 781 and 782, arguing that under section 1179(d), dismissal of his juvenile petition was mandatory based on his honorable discharge. The juvenile court granted Jhonny’s petition to have his juvenile record sealed but declined to dismiss his petition, citing section 782.The court of appeal reversed. The cited statutes deal with the same subject matter (dismissal of a juvenile petition) but there is a conflict arising from the use of mandatory language in section 1179(d) (the court “shall” dismiss) and discretionary language in sections 782 and 1772 (the court “may” dismiss). Under these circumstances, the specific statute must prevail. Only section 1179(d) addresses the specific issue raised here of the dismissal of the petition of an individual who has obtained an honorable discharge from the DJJ. View "In re Jhonny S." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the juvenile court placing MBP, a juvenile, on supervised probation for three to six months after adjudicating him delinquent for fighting in public, holding that the juvenile court did not err in either its adjudication or order of disposition.As part of the disposition, the juvenile court placed MBP on supervised probation for three to six months. MBP appealed, arguing that the evidence was insufficient establish to support the adjudication and that the sentence imposed was contrary to law. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the evidence was sufficient to support the requisite intent and established an implicit agreement to fight; and (2) MBP failed to establish that the juvenile court's imposition of a three-to-six-month probationary term constituted plain error. View "MBP v. State" on Justia Law

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In 2005, fifteen-year-old Davion Keel and eighteen-year-old Ariel Bolton held Barry Knight at gunpoint and robbed him of twenty dollars on the streets of San Bernardino. One of them shot and killed Knight when he resisted the robbery and tried to flee. Keel and Bolton were both prosecuted in adult criminal court and convicted of first degree murder in connection with Knight’s death. More than a decade later, Keel petitioned to vacate his murder conviction and to be resentenced under Penal Code section 1172.6 based on legislative changes to California's murder laws. The trial court denied the petition for resentencing, finding Keel was not entitled to relief because he remained liable for Knight’s murder because he was a major participant in the underlying robbery and he acted with reckless indifference to human life. Keel appealed, arguing the evidence was insufficient to support the trial court’s finding that he was a major participant in the underlying robbery who acted with reckless indifference to human life. In the alternative, he contended the court applied an incorrect legal standard when it adjudicated his petition for resentencing. The Court of Appeal agreed with Keel’s first argument, which rendered it unnecessary to reach his second argument. Because there was insufficient evidence to support the trial court’s determination, the Court reversed the order denying Keel’s resentencing petition and remanded the matter to the trial court with directions to grant Keel’s resentencing petition and vacate his murder conviction. Further, the Court concluded Proposition 57, the Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act of 2016, and Senate Bill 1391 (2017–2018 Reg. Sess.) would apply retroactively to Keel once his petition for resentencing was granted and his murder conviction was vacated. Therefore, on remand, the Court instructed the trial court to transfer the matter to the juvenile court for resentencing in accordance with those measures. View "California v. Keel" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the juvenile court denying Gunner B.'s motion for a new trial after the juvenile court entered an order finding that Gunner was a child within the meaning of Neb. Rev. Stat. 43-247(1), holding that Gunner's assignments of error were without merit.The State filed a petition alleging that Gunner was a child within the meaning of section 43-247(1) and had committed sexual assault in the third degree, as that crime is set forth in Neb. Rev. Stat. 28-320(1) and (3). The juvenile court found that Gunner was a child within the meaning of section 43-247(1) and set the case for disposition. After the juvenile court denied Gunner's ensuing motion for a new trial Gunner appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Defendant's assignments of error were without merit and that the evidence was sufficient to prove Gunner's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. View "In re Gunner B." on Justia Law

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Javier Garza was found guilty of third degree rape when he was 17 years old. Twenty-five years after his adjudication, Garza successfully petitioned for relief from registering as a sex offender. Garza then moved to vacate and seal his juvenile adjudication under RCW 13.50.260(3). The court found it had no authority to vacate juvenile adjudications under this provision and denied the motion. The Court of Appeals affirmed on different grounds, holding that because RCW 13.50.260(3) applied only to “order[s] and findings,” juvenile adjudications did not qualify because adjudications were judgments, not orders. The issue this case presented for the Washington Supreme Court's review was whether a juvenile adjudication could be vacated and sealed under RCW 13.50.260(3). Because the plain language of the statute grants trial courts discretion to vacate and seal both adjudications and diversions, the Supreme Court held that juvenile adjudications could be vacated and sealed under RCW 13.50.260(3). The Court reversed the Court of Appeals and remanded for a new hearing. View "Washington v. Garza" on Justia Law

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In 2016, Stewart, then 20 years old, was charged with possession of a stolen motor vehicle, a Class 2 felony. While the case was pending, Stewart turned 21. In 2017, a jury found Stewart guilty. The trial court found that Stewart was subject to mandatory Class X sentencing under section 5-4.5-95(b): When a defendant, over the age of 21 years, is convicted of a Class 1 or Class 2 felony, after having twice been convicted in any state or federal court of an offense that contains the same elements as an offense now (the date the Class 1 or Class 2 felony was committed) classified in Illinois as a Class 2 or greater Class felony and those charges are separately brought and tried and arise out of different series of acts, that defendant shall be sentenced as a Class X offender. Stewart had a 2013 conviction for residential burglary, a Class 1 felony, and a 2014 conviction for possession of a stolen motor vehicle, a Class 2 felony. The trial court found Stewart eligible for Class X sentencing and sentenced him to the statutory minimum term of six years’ imprisonment.The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed that Stewart’s first felony offense, committed when he was 17 years old, was not a qualifying offense for Class X sentencing and could not serve as a basis for Class X sentencing eligibility. View "People v. Stewart" on Justia Law

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In September 2019, the Department filed a dependency petition after taking six-year-old A.H. and her younger half-siblings into emergency protective custody and placing them in foster care. The petition alleged that the children’s mother had allowed A.H. to have unsupervised contact with an older relative suspected of having sexually molested the child. A.H.’s alleged father, J.H., had failed to provide care, support, or supervision for more than a year and it was indicated that his whereabouts were unknown, although the Department did have an address.The court of appeal reversed an order terminating J.H.'s parental rights. From the outset of the dependency proceedings through the jurisdiction and dispositional hearing, the Department’s efforts to locate J.H. and provide him notice requirements fell far short of the statutory requirements and left him in the dark about his parental status, how to assert his parental rights and how to participate in the proceedings. While its efforts may have improved later in the case, the Department never rectified its earlier failures by advising J.H. of his right to request counsel and his need to elevate his status to "presumed parent" to assert his parental rights. The Department violated his right to due process. View "In re A.H." on Justia Law