Justia Juvenile Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Juvenile Law
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In this case, the Supreme Court of Ohio considered whether a juvenile, T.D.S., knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily waived his Miranda rights before providing statements to the police. The statements related to a homicide investigation involving another juvenile.The case originated from an incident in 2019, where the Police responded to a report of shots fired in an apartment building and discovered a male juvenile, S.G., with gunshot wounds. The police investigation led them to T.D.S., who was then 15 years old. During questioning at T.D.S.'s mother’s house, T.D.S. initially denied involvement in the shooting but later admitted to accidentally shooting S.G. while playing with a gun. After these statements, T.D.S. was read his Miranda rights and questioned further. He was subsequently charged with several offenses including murder and felonious assault.T.D.S. argued that the juvenile court should have granted a motion to suppress all the statements he made to the police officers, contending that he did not knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily waive his Miranda rights. After considering the totality of the circumstances, including T.D.S.'s age, prior criminal experience, and the nature of the police interrogation, the Supreme Court of Ohio affirmed the lower courts' decisions that T.D.S. had knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily waived his Miranda rights. The court found that the police did not engage in coercion and that T.D.S.'s waiver was not involuntary.T.D.S. also argued that his post-Miranda statements should be presumed inadmissible under the court's previous reasoning in a case called State v. Farris. However, the court found that T.D.S. had not properly raised this argument in the lower courts, so it was forfeited. Even if he had preserved the argument, the court found that the record did not support his claims under the Farris case.Therefore, the court affirmed the judgment of the lower courts, finding that T.D.S.'s post-Miranda statements were properly admitted at trial. View "In re T.D.S." on Justia Law

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In 1980, Thernell Hundley was convicted of capital murder and rape, and received a life sentence without parole. In 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that life sentences without parole for juvenile offenders were unconstitutional, and Hundley's life sentence for capital murder was vacated. However, during his incarceration, Hundley had committed four additional felonies. As a result, the Jefferson County Circuit Court in Arkansas ruled that Hundley was ineligible for parole based on Arkansas Code Annotated section 16-93-607(c)(5), which states that inmates classified as fourth offenders are not eligible for parole.Hundley appealed this decision, arguing that his rape conviction should be vacated as it was merged with the capital murder charge, that he should be eligible for parole under the Fair Sentencing of Minors Act, and that his parole eligibility should be determined by the law in effect when he committed his first crimes in 1979. He also challenged the inclusion of his two Class D felony convictions in determining his parole eligibility.The Supreme Court of Arkansas upheld the circuit court's decision. The court ruled that Hundley's separate conviction for rape was not illegal and could not be vacated. The court further held that Hundley's parole eligibility was correctly determined based on the law in effect at the time he committed his last two felonies in 1988 and 1989, not the law at the time of his original crimes. The court also clarified that Hundley's parole ineligibility was based on his convictions for capital murder, rape, attempted first-degree murder and first-degree battery, not his two Class D felonies. View "Hundley v. Payne" on Justia Law

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In this case, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts was called upon to determine which law applied to the sealing of records from youthful offender proceedings - G. L. c. 276, § 100A, the adult criminal record sealing statute or G. L. c. 276, § 100B, the juvenile delinquency sealing statute. The case arose when the Commissioner of Probation denied the petitioner's request to have his youthful offender records sealed under § 100B and instead applied the adult criminal record sealing statute, § 100A.The court, after examining both statutes and considering the legislative intent, concluded that § 100B, the juvenile delinquency sealing statute, was the proper statute for the sealing of records of youthful offenders. The court found that the Legislature’s intent to aid, encourage, and guide juveniles, which includes youthful offenders, was more consistent with the process outlined in § 100B.The court held that it was an error for the Commissioner of Probation to refuse to seal the petitioner's Juvenile Court records under § 100B, as the petitioner had satisfied all the requirements under the statute. Therefore, the case was remanded back to the county court for the entry of a judgment in favor of the petitioner. View "In the Matter of an Impounded Case" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, Division One, State of California reviewed a case involving a mother (E.V.) who argued that the juvenile court lacked the authority to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) and a permanent restraining order under Welfare and Institutions Code section 213.5. This section, in conjunction with section 311, implies that such authority is limited to dependency petitions filed by a probation officer rather than petitions filed by a social worker under section 300. The case arose after the juvenile court removed E.V.'s children from her custody due to drug use and negligence. Subsequently, the court granted a TRO request filed by one of the children (A.D.) against E.V. and later issued a permanent restraining order protecting A.D. from E.V. for a three-year period.The court, in this case, rejected E.V's argument, stating that in the context of the statutory scheme, probation officers and social workers are deemed the same. The court cited the legislative authority that allowed the delegation of duties from probation officers to social workers, making both terms interchangeable in juvenile dependency cases. Therefore, the court concluded that the juvenile court had the authority to issue a TRO and a permanent restraining order under Welfare and Institutions Code section 213.5 in cases where the petition was filed by a social worker under section 300. The court affirmed the order of the juvenile court. View "Bonds v. Super. Ct." on Justia Law

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In this juvenile wardship proceeding in California, defendant M.B. admitted to attempting murder and related enhancement allegations. M.B. was committed to a secure youth treatment facility (SYTF) for a four-year baseline term of confinement and a maximum term of confinement of 22 years to life. On appeal, M.B. challenged the court's jurisdiction to modify an earlier order setting the maximum term of confinement at four years. He also argued that the indeterminate 22 years to life term was unauthorized and that his precommitment credits should be applied against his four-year baseline term rather than against the maximum term of confinement.The Court of Appeal held that the juvenile court had jurisdiction to enter the challenged order and rejected M.B.'s argument that equal protection principles required application of precommitment credits against the baseline term. However, the court agreed with M.B. and the Attorney General that the 22 years to life maximum term of confinement was unauthorized. As such, the court modified the juvenile court's order to specify the maximum term of confinement as 22 years and otherwise affirmed the order. View "In re M.B." on Justia Law

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The appellant C.B., the biological father of minor A.K., appealed from the January 2023 order of the juvenile court terminating his parental rights. The appellant argued that the juvenile court and the Calaveras County Health and Human Services Agency (the Agency) denied his due process rights to notice and an opportunity to participate in dependency proceedings to establish presumed father status. T.K., the minor’s mother (mother), joined in C.B.’s arguments. The Court of Appeal of the State of California Third Appellate District agreed, finding that the juvenile court and the Agency did not comply with duties to try to identify all of the minor’s alleged fathers, to give adequate notice to C.B. that his parental rights were at stake in the proceedings, or to give C.B. notice of specific important hearings. Thus, it reversed the order terminating parental rights. The facts of the case reveal that when the minor was born, the Agency received a report that the mother tested positive for methamphetamine, benzodiazepines, and sexually transmitted diseases. The mother did not inform C.B. about her pregnancy and initially identified D.C. as the alleged father of the minor. However, paternity testing later showed that D.C. was not the biological father, and C.B. was identified as the potential father. Despite this, C.B. was not given proper notice of the proceedings or properly informed about their importance, and his due process rights were violated. View "In re A.K." on Justia Law

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The case arises from an appeal by a minor, K.B., from the juvenile court's order denying his request to dismiss a juvenile justice petition and seal records pertaining to his commission of several criminal offenses, for which he was adjudged a ward of the court and placed on probation. K.B. argued that he had met the requirements for "satisfactory completion" of probation and therefore, the petition should be dismissed and records sealed despite his subsequent admission for possessing marijuana for sale, an infraction.The central legal issue in this case was the interpretation of Welfare and Institutions Code section 786, subdivision (c)(1), which provides that a subsequent wardship adjudication during probation does not preclude satisfactory completion unless it stems from "a felony offense or a misdemeanor involving moral turpitude." The Court of Appeal of the State of California Third Appellate District disagreed with the juvenile court's interpretation of the statute that any juvenile adjudication, even an infraction, precludes satisfactory completion of probation.The appellate court held that the language of the statute, when considered in light of its purpose and to avoid absurd results, meant that the limiting phrase "for a felony offense or a misdemeanor involving moral turpitude" applies equally to juvenile wardship adjudications and adult convictions. Hence, K.B.'s infraction did not preclude satisfactory completion of probation. The court reversed the juvenile court's order and remanded with instructions to dismiss the petition and seal all records pertaining to the dismissed petition. View "In re K.B." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania considered whether a violation of a juvenile defendant's Fifth Amendment right is subject to appellate review for harmless error. The case involved Nazeer Taylor, who was charged with several serious felony offenses as a juvenile. The juvenile court transferred Taylor's case to adult criminal court, considering Taylor's refusal to admit guilt for his alleged offenses as a factor in its decision. The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania previously held that such consideration violated Taylor's Fifth Amendment right. In this appeal, the Supreme Court concluded that the violation constituted a structural error, not subject to a harmless error review. Given Taylor's current age of 27, neither the juvenile nor the adult criminal court had the statutory authority to conduct a new certification hearing. Consequently, the Supreme Court affirmed the order of the Superior Court reversing Taylor's conviction and discharging him. View "Commonwealth v. Taylor" on Justia Law

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This case involves a person identified as Tony R., who was committed to the Reaching Into Successful Endeavors (RISE) program for a term of 11 years or until he reached the age of 25, with a baseline term of four years. This was following his involvement in serious offenses, including attempted murder and second-degree robbery. Tony appealed from the juvenile court's denial of his request to reduce his baseline term of confinement at his first six-month review hearing. He argued that the court lacked the authority to deny his request or, in the alternate, that it had abused its discretion.At the six-month review, the court evaluated Tony's progress in relation to his rehabilitation plan, which included a series of programs and treatments aimed at addressing his needs. Tony had been participating in these programs successfully and was performing well academically. Despite this, the court denied his request for a reduction in his baseline term.The Court of Appeal of the State of California, First Appellate District, affirmed the juvenile court's decision. The appellate court found that the juvenile court did not abuse its discretion in denying Tony's request for a reduction in his baseline term. The appellate court noted that the law gives juvenile courts discretion to reduce the baseline term but does not require it to do so, and that the juvenile court's decision was within the bounds of reason under the applicable law and the relevant facts. View "In re Tony R." on Justia Law

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In the case at hand, the defendant, Timmy J. Rouleau, was convicted of multiple counts of sexual assault following a jury trial in the Superior Court of New Hampshire. The case involved claims that the defendant sexually assaulted the victim multiple times when she was between the ages of ten and thirteen. The Supreme Court of New Hampshire reviewed the case focusing on the trial court's decision to admit evidence about an Amazon "wish list" containing sexually oriented items. The defendant argued that the evidence was not intrinsic to the charged crimes and should not have been admitted.The Supreme Court of New Hampshire concluded that the wish list evidence was not intrinsic to the charged crimes, and thus, its admission was an error. However, the court ruled that this error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. The court reached this conclusion by considering the overwhelming evidence of the defendant's guilt presented at trial, including the victim's detailed testimony of the repeated sexual assaults. The court also noted that the wish list evidence comprised a small portion of the victim's testimony and was not mentioned in the State's closing argument. Therefore, even though the evidence was admitted erroneously, it did not affect the verdicts, and the court ultimately affirmed the convictions. View "State v. Rouleau" on Justia Law