Justia Juvenile Law Opinion Summaries

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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

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The State of California appealed after a juvenile court declared defendant-respondent T.O. a ward of the court and placed him in a secure local facility for committing a sexual offense against his seven-year-old cousin. The State contended the juvenile court erred in refusing to impose mandatory sex offender registration pursuant to Penal Code section 290.008 because the court improperly relied on a strict interpretation of section 290.008 without adequately considering the illogical or consequences and harmonizing the statutory scheme. Based on the legislative intent in enacting changes to the juvenile delinquency provisions and the plain language of section 290.008, the Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment. View "In re T.O." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the order of the intermediate court of appeals (ICA) affirming the judgment of the family court adjudicating Minor as a law violator for sexually assaulting the nine-year-old complaining witness (CW), holding that the exclusion of certain evidence proffered in this case was not harmless beyond a reasonable doubt.On appeal, Minor argued that the family court erred in excluding his proffered extrinsic evidence of CW's past false sexual assault allegations and by failing to make a preliminary determination as to the truth or falsity of those past sexual assault allegations. The Supreme Court vacated the ICA's judgment on appeal and the family court's decree, holding (1) if a defendant seeks to admit a complaining witness's false allegations of sexual assault, admissibility of such evidence is not subject to Haw. R. Evid. 412; and (2) the family court abused its discretion by excluding the proffered evidence based on the procedural requirements of Rule 412. View "In re GH" on Justia Law

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Kelan, in Missouri with an adult accomplice, allegedly took Luterman’s 2019 Volkswagen by force or the threat of force. The two drove the car into Illinois, where they were apprehended. Kelan was 16 years old. He resides in Illinois with his mother. The state filed a petition to adjudicate Kelan a delinquent minor based on the Missouri carjacking and, under Illinois law, unlawful possession of a stolen motor vehicle, aggravated unlawful use of a weapon by a person under 21, and theft.The state argued that delinquency proceedings based on out-of-state conduct are explicitly permitted under the Juvenile Court Act (705 ILCS 405/5-120). The appellate court reversed the dismissal of the charges that were based on Missouri law. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed. Section 5-120 of the Act unambiguously authorizes delinquency proceedings against a minor in Illinois who violates another state’s law. Illinois is likely to be in a better position than any other state to ensure that family and community are involved in our juveniles’ rehabilitative process, and it may help reduce disruption to the minor’s life to receive necessary services in his home state. View "In re Kelan W." on Justia Law

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The State of Colorado filed a petition in delinquency against A.C. A.C.’s counsel moved for a competency evaluation, noting that A.C. had trouble paying attention and was on an individualized education plan at school due to his Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (“ADHD”). The magistrate granted the motion and ordered the Colorado Department of Human Services (“CDHS”) to perform a competency evaluation. Based on his evaluation, a doctor concluded that A.C. did not have the ability to (1) factually and rationally understand the proceedings or (2) assist in the defense. Ultimately, the doctor concluded A.C. was incompetent to proceed but that the “prognosis for restoring [A.C.] to competency . . . [was] fair to good.” The magistrate found A.C. incompetent to proceed, stayed the proceedings, and ordered CDHS to provide restoration services. Almost six months later, the magistrate held a hearing to determine whether A.C. had been restored to competency. The evaluating doctor and A.C.’s restoration services provider testified at the hearing, but neither opined as to whether A.C. had been “restored to competency.” The Colorado Supreme Court granted review in this case to consider whether the Juvenile Justice Code authorized a magistrate to order a juvenile found incompetent to proceed to undergo a “reassessment evaluation” as part of the restoration review or restoration hearing procedures outlined in sections 19-2.5-704 to -706, C.R.S. (2022), to determine whether the juvenile has been restored to competency. A.C. argued that such an evaluation was prohibited by Colorado in Interest of B.B.A.M., 453 P.3d 1161. The Supreme Court concluded that the juvenile court had the authority to order a reassessment evaluation after determining that a juvenile remains incompetent and that this type of evaluation was distinct from the second competency evaluation at issue in B.B.A.M. View " People v. A.C. " on Justia Law