Justia Juvenile Law Opinion Summaries

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Juvenile N.M. appealed the family division’s order granting the request of the Department for Children and Families (DCF) to place him in an out-of-state secure facility. Juvenile argued he was entitled to an independent, second evidentiary hearing, pursuant to 33 V.S.A. 5291(d), on the question of whether he should be placed in the secure facility. The Vermont Supreme Court concluded section 5291(d) was inapplicable in the post-disposition phase of this case, and therefore denied the request. Insofar as juvenile made no other arguments in support of his appeal, the appeal was dismissed. View "In re N.M., Juvenile" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court revoking the suspended portion of Appellant's sentence, holding that the district court did not err in denying Appellant's motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.When Appellant was sixteen, the youth court found Appellant to be a delinquent youth, and Appellant received a juvenile disposition consisting of both a juvenile sentence and an adult sentence. After Appellant admitted to violations of the conditions of his sentence the judge implemented the adult sentence in modified form. The State later filed a second petition to revoke, and the judge revoked Appellant's deferred adult sentences and sentenced him to a term of incarceration. When Appellant was twenty-seven years old the State filed a third petition to revoke. Appellant filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the youth court's jurisdiction over him ended when he reached the age of twenty-five and that the judge had not transferred the case to the district court. The judge denied the motion. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the youth court lost jurisdiction over Appellant when he reached his twenty-fifth birthday and the case was not transferred to a district court; and (2) the lower court lacked jurisdiction and imposed an illegal sentence. View "In re S.G.-H.M. Jr." on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals reversed the judgment of the court of special appeals affirming Petitioner's convictions and the judgment of the circuit court denying Petitioner's motion to transfer jurisdiction to the juvenile court pursuant to Md. Code Crim. Proc. 4-202, holding that the circuit court did not properly consider Petitioner's amenability to treatment in a juvenile institution, program, or facility.Petitioner was charged with several crimes that he committed when he was sixteen that were beyond the jurisdiction of the juvenile court. After the circuit court denied Petitioner's motion to transfer jurisdiction to the juvenile court Petitioner entered a conditional guilty plea. The court of special appeals. The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded the matter for a new hearing on Petitioner's motion to transfer, holding that it was evident from the circuit court's remarks that it did not properly consider amenability. View "Davis v. State" on Justia Law

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A juvenile wardship petition (Welfare and Institutions Code section 602(a)) alleged that Matthew had committed assault with a deadly weapon and assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury; that Matthew had personally inflicted great bodily injury on the victim and had caused the victim to suffer great bodily injury resulting in paralysis and had personally used a deadly weapon, a knife. The juvenile court found true all of the allegations except for the paralysis enhancement; dismissed count two and the accompanying enhancement, at the request of the prosecutor; declared Matthew a ward of the court; and placed Matthew on probation with conditions.The court of appeal reversed, finding that Matthew’s pre-arrest statements to police were made during a custodial interrogation without the required Miranda warnings and that the admission of those statements was prejudicial. While Matthew was told at the start of the interrogation that he was not under arrest, and the police officers who were present did not handcuff him or unholster their weapons, the interview was initiated by police, who had just heard from another that Matthew had stabbed the victim. The entire interrogation was an attempt to get Matthew to admit that he stabbed the victim and to provide additional incriminating information. View "In re Matthew W." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the circuit court's adjudication of I.T.B. as a delinquent child, holding that the evidence in the record was insufficient to support a determination that I.T.B. had made a terroristic threat.The circuit court adjudicated I.T.B. a delinquent child for making a terrorist threat in violation of S.D. Codified Laws 22-8-13(1). The adjudication was based on I.T.B.'s conduct at a high school principal's office. Specifically, I.T.B. uttered the word "bomb" in earshot of other students and also picked up some scissors and uttered the words "kill someone." The Supreme Court reversed the adjudication, holding that I.T.B.'s utterances, without further context, were insufficient to support a determination beyond a reasonable doubt that I.T.B. threatened to commit a "crime of violence" or an "act dangerous to human life involving...any explosive device" with the intent to intimidate or coerce a civilian population, as required by section 22-8-13(1). View "In re Interest Of I.T.B." on Justia Law

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T.B. committed two sexual offenses as a minor: the first when he was eleven years old and the second when he was fifteen. Because he was twice adjudicated delinquent for unlawful sexual behavior, the Colorado Sex Offender Registration Act (“CSORA”), required T.B. to register as a sex offender for the remainder of his natural life. Now an adult, T.B. sought review of the juvenile court’s denial of his petition to deregister, arguing that CSORA’s mandatory lifetime sex offender registration requirement for offenders with multiple juvenile adjudications violated the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. To this, the Colorado Supreme Court agreed: "Mandatory lifetime sex offender registration brands juveniles as irredeemably depraved based on acts committed before reaching adulthood. But a wealth of social science and jurisprudence confirms what common sense suggests: Juveniles are different. Minors have a tremendous capacity to change and reform. As such, mandating lifetime sex offender registration for juveniles without providing a mechanism for individualized assessment or an opportunity to deregister upon a showing of rehabilitation is excessive and violates the Eighth Amendment." The matter was remanded for further proceedings on T.B.'s petition to deregister. View "Colorado in Int. of T.B." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed Defendant's conviction for murder in the first degree but remanded for resentencing in accordance with Diatchenko v. District Attorney for the Suffolk District, 466 Mass. 655 (2013), holding that because Defendant was a juvenile at the time of the offense, resentencing was required.Defendant was sixteen years old when he shot and killed a fourteen year old boy. Defendant was convicted of murder in the first degree. In accordance with Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 265, 2, as the statute stood at the time of trial, Defendant was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The Supreme Judicial Court (1) affirmed Defendant's convictions, holding that he was not entitled to relief on any of his allegations of error; and (2) pursuant to Diatchenko, held that Defendant should be resentenced so that he will be eligible for parole on his life sentence. View "Commonwealth v. Fernandes" on Justia Law

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The Fourth Circuit affirmed defendant's resentence for charges related to a series of violent carjackings, which defendant actively participated in when he was fifteen-years old.The court concluded that defendant's punishment was carefully tailored and there was no Eighth Amendment violation. In this case, defendant's 52-year sentence did not violate Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460, 465 (2012), and Montgomery v. Louisiana, 577 U.S. 190, 212 (2016). The court rejected defendant's contention that his sentence amounts to a de facto life sentence, concluding that defendant would be released in his sixties, which allows him "a limited period of freedom."The court also concluded that defendant's 52-year sentence was procedurally reasonable where the district court discussed each of defendant's mitigating arguments; gave defendant some credit for his maturation in prison; and addressed defendant's concerns regarding sentence disparities. However, the district court also highlighted the brutal nature of the carjackings and murders. The court also concluded that the sentence was substantively reasonable where the district court imposed a sentence many years below the advisory Guidelines range; did not abuse its discretion by placing significant weight on the seriousness of defendant's offense; and weighed the 18 U.S.C. 3553(a) sentencing factors. View "United States v. Friend" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court quashed the decision of the Fourth District Court of Appeal in this juvenile sentencing case remanding for the trial judge to remedy a harmful Alleyne error through a "ministerial correction" of sentence for which the defendant "need not be present," holding that the remedy fell short of the de novo sentencing required by Williams v. State, 242 So. 3d 280 (Fla. 2018).At issue was the proper remedy for a harmful Alleyne error that occurs where, in sentencing a juvenile offender under Fla. Stat. 775.082(1)(b), the trial court enhances the sentence without a jury finding of the fact that authorizes the enhancement. In this case, Defendant, who committed two homicides, argued that he should be resentenced because the jury was not asked to find, and did not find, that he "actually killed, attempted to kill, or intended to kill the victims," as required under section 775.082(1)(b)1. The Fourth District concluded that the trial court committed a harmful Alleyne error in resentencing Defendant and remanded for "ministerial correction" of Defendant's sentences, for which Defendant "need not be present[.]" The Supreme Court quashed the Fourth District's decision, holding that Defendant was entitled to the de novo resentencing required by Williams. View "Puzio v. State" on Justia Law

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Defendant Joseph Jackson sought a youth offender parole hearing under Penal Code section 3051 as a result of his conviction in 1998 that included two counts of first-degree murder with multiple special circumstances, which counts resulted in a sentence of two consecutive terms of life without the possibility of parole (LWOP). Defendant was 19 years old when he committed the homicides. In his October 2019 motion, defendant argued section 3051 violated his equal protection rights because he allegedly “is entitled to the same protections as any other person who violated the law at the same age whether it was murder without special circumstances, robbery, kidnapping or any other crime.” The trial court in November 2019 denied the motion, finding that defendant was statutorily ineligible for relief and that there was a rational basis for carving out from section 3051 offenders such as defendant who were convicted of first-degree special circumstance murder and sentenced to LWOP. On appeal, defendant reiterated his trial court argument that section 3051’s exclusion of persons over 18 years of age with LWOP sentences from its parole hearing provisions violated the constitutional guarantee of equal protection. Upon de novo review, the Court of Appeal concluded the carve out to section 3051 for offenders such as defendant serving a LWOP sentence for special circumstance murder was not an equal protection violation. View "California v. Jackson" on Justia Law