Articles Posted in Juvenile Cases

Pursuant to RCW 43.43.754, individuals convicted of certain crimes and juvenile offenses in Washington must give a DNA sample.  Two juveniles recently challenged separate court orders requiring them to give DNA samples after they were granted deferred disposition. Each of the juveniles was charged with theft of a motor vehicle arising from separate incidents, with one of the juveniles having several additional charges.  They each appealed and their cases were consolidated before the Washington Supreme Court.

In the lead opinion, the Washington Supreme Court noted that RCW 43.43.754 fails to define the meaning of “conviction.”  The court also pointed out that the meaning of “conviction” is not clear in statutes involving juveniles. In such circumstances, the court must consider the context and purposes of the statute in interpreting what is meant by “conviction.”

The court first considered other relevant statutes.  The court noted that juvenile adjudications finding guilt are considered convictions under the Sentencing Reform Act.  RCW 9.94A.030(9).  The court also concluded that standard and law dictionary definitions supported the definition in the Sentencing Reform Act.

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The value of property can affect the degree and seriousness of a Washington theft crime.  In a recent unpublished case, a juvenile challenged his second degree theft conviction, arguing the trial court had used the wrong methodology for determining the value of the property.

A deputy testified he met with the juvenile and his mother after responding to a call reporting a possible theft.  The deputy testified the juvenile admitted he had taken a ring out of his mother’s jewelry box.

A jeweler testified that the replacement cost of the ring was $1,200, based on making a new ring.  The jeweler also testified that used jewelry did not get the same price as new and that the ring might be sold to a jeweler for $340.  A dealer might be able to sell it then for $600 or $700.

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In State v. Blake in 2021, the Washington Supreme Court determined that Washington’s strict liability drug statute violated due process because it “criminalize[d] innocent and passive possession.” This case has had a tremendous impact on Washington drug possession cases.  A Washington criminal conviction that is based on an unconstitutional statute is required to be vacated.  A number of cases under the previous version of R.C.W. 69.50.4013(1) have been overturned as a result of the Blake decision.  Recently, a juvenile appealed his drug possession adjudication under a different statute, arguing it should also be vacated due to the court’s holding in Blake.

The juvenile was found guilty of violation of the Uniform Controlled Substances Act under former R.C.W. 69.50.4014. He appealed, arguing the Washington Supreme Court’s decision in Blake required his adjudication to be vacated.  He argued the applicable version of R.C.W. 69.50.4014 was unconstitutional and void based on the reasoning in Blake.

The state argued that Blake did not void the applicable version of R.C.W. 69.50.4014 because that charge carried a lesser punishment than the statute Blake found was unconstitutional. The appeals court rejected the state’s argument, noting the Blake court did not base its decision on the severity of the punishment. The Blake decision was instead based on the statute’s lack of an intent element.

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Community supervision and probation are often preferable to confinement, but some people can find it difficult to comply with their times at times. Additionally, the requirements for the state to prove a violation of such terms do not require the same level of proof as would be required for new Washington criminal charges.  In a recent case, a juvenile challenged the constitutionality of RCW 13.40.200 because of the burden of proof it requires for violations.

The juvenile offender was 13 years old when she pleaded guilty to fourth degree assault. She was sentenced to 3 days of confinement, 12 months of community supervision, and 16 hours of community service. She violated the community supervision conditions multiple times.

After four violation hearings and 61 days of additional confinement, she contested allegations she had failed to go to school and follow rules and curfew. She moved to challenge the constitutionality of RCW 13.40.200. RCW 13.40.200 sets forth the procedure and punishment for a juvenile offender’s failure to comply with an order for community supervision. She argued section (2) of the statute violates due process because it requires the juvenile to disprove the willfulness of the violation.  She also argued section 3 allows for the imposition of confinement based on a preponderance standard until the maximum adult sentence.  She argued the state should prove all elements of a willful violation beyond a reasonable doubt once the offender’s confinement exceeds the standard range.

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Juvenile cases are sometimes transferred to adult criminal court.  The requirements regarding a court holding a hearing on the issue of declining jurisdiction are set forth in RCW 13.40.110.  An appeals court recently considered whether Washington juvenile court jurisdiction could be waived for any type of case, or if the court’s authority was limited to the types of cases identified in the statute as eligible for a decline hearing.

According to the appeals court’s opinion, a 17-year-old juvenile was charged with two counts of a gross misdemeanor, fourth degree assault.  He moved to have the case moved to adult criminal court, partly to have a jury trial and an opportunity to vacate his convictions.  He argued a juvenile court may decline jurisdiction over a criminal case if the juvenile intelligently makes an express waiver pursuant to RCW 13.40.140(10). RCW 13.40.140(10) provides that any waiver of a juvenile’s rights must be “express” and “intelligently made.” The state argued that a juvenile court is only permitted to decline jurisdiction in cases in which a decline hearing is required.

The court granted the request and the state requested discretionary review.

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Washington juvenile courts may impose “local sanctions” for certain low level offenses committed by a juvenile offender.  Local sanctions include up to 30 days confinement, up to 12 months community supervision, up to 150 hours community restitution, or up to a $500 fine. RCW 13.40.020(18).  The juvenile court may impose conditions on a juvenile defendant sentenced to local sanctions pursuant to its authority to impose community supervision. If a juvenile defendant is sentenced to more than 30 days, however, he or she must be committed to DCYF.  RCW 13.40.160. The juvenile offender may be subject to conditions as part of DCYF’s parole program after the sentence has been completed.  Certain conditions are required under the parole program, while others are permitted.  The statute specifically permits the secretary to prohibit the juvenile offender from having contact with specific people or classes of people. RCW 13.40.210(3)(b)(ix).

Recently, a juvenile defendant appealed a court’s order prohibiting him from contacting the victims of his offense. According to the appeals court’s opinion, the juvenile defendant fired a flare gun into a house resulting in a small fire.  Three people were inside.

The defendant ultimately pleaded guilty to first degree arson in juvenile court. The court ordered him to 103 to 129 weeks in a Department of Children, Youth, and Families (“DCYF”) rehabilitation facility. The state requested a no-contact order for the people who had been inside the house. The court’s disposition order contained a provision prohibiting the defendant from contacting those three people for an unstated period of time.  The court also imposed a 10-year no contact order.

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Parents in Washington want to do what they can to protect their children from harassment. A parent may petition on their child’s behalf for an anti-harassment protection order.  A parent’s ability to seek a protection order against another child, however, is more limited.  In such cases, the other child must have been “adjudicated of”  or investigated for an offense against the protected child.  RCW 10.14.040(7).  A high school student recently challenged a protection order issued against her on the grounds it was not permitted under RCW 10.14.040(7).

Two high school students were involved in some sort of conflict. The appeals court’s opinion identified the two minor students by the initials A.R.S. and K.G.T.  According to the court’s opinion, A.R.S. repeatedly threatened to assault K.G.T.

They met in the bathroom to resolve their differences.  A.R.S. shoved K.G.T. A teacher intervened and stopped the incident.  The assistant principal subsequently addressed it as a disciplinary issue and suspended K.G.T. for one day and A.R.S. for three.

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The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects individuals from warrantless searches by the government, but does not generally apply to the actions of a private person.  It can apply, however, if the private person is acting as a government agent.  Courts consider whether the government knew of and agreed to the person’s conduct and whether the person’s intent was to help law enforcement. In a recent Washington case, a teenage defendant appealed her possession conviction after the juvenile court admitted evidence her mother found in a search conducted in the presence of a deputy.

According to the appeals court’s unpublished opinion, the mother reported her teen daughter had snuck out and came home intoxicated. The girl was asleep in bed when the deputy responded, and he did not think she looked intoxicated. The mother told him the girl had packed her backpack to run away.  The deputy told the mother she could take the backpack and cellphone from her daughter.  The mother emptied the contents of the backpack, including a small container that appeared to contain marijuana. The mother told the deputy she wanted her daughter charged.  The state charged the girl with possession of 40 grams or less of marijuana while under 21 years of age.

The defendant moved to suppress the marijuana, arguing it was found in an unlawful warrantless search.

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Juvenile defendants may have the option of “deferred disposition.” In a deferred disposition, the defendant does not contest the state’s facts.  If the court finds the statement of uncontested facts is sufficient, it finds the defendant guilty.  Disposition, however, is deferred pending satisfaction of the conditions ordered by the court.  If the defendant meets the conditions, the conviction is vacated.

An ongoing question has been whether juvenile defendants subject to deferred disposition are required to submit a DNA sample.

A juvenile defendant recently challenged an order that required him to submit a DNA sample.  The juvenile was charged with two counts of theft of a motor vehicle, which is a felony.  The trial court granted his motion for deferred disposition. He objected to submitting a DNA sample, but the court overruled the objection.  The court entered guilty findings on both charges and deferred disposition.  The court also stayed the requirement he submit a DNA sample pending his appeal.

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After the U.S. Supreme Court determined that mandatory life sentences without the possibility of parole for juveniles was unconstitutional, the state of Washington enacted a statute requiring the re-sentencing of Washington criminal defendants who had been sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for crimes committed while they were juveniles. RCW 10.95.035.

A defendant who was re-sentenced after the change in the law recently challenged his new sentence.  According to the appeals court’s opinion, the defendant killed two people during a robbery in 1997 at the age of 17.  He was sentenced to the then-mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole for each of two counts of aggravated first degree murder while armed with a deadly weapon, to be served consecutively, plus a deadly weapon enhancement of 24 months on each count.

Following a hearing in 2017, the defendant was re-sentenced to two concurrent terms of 42 years to life.  The defendant appealed and the appeals court affirmed.  The Washington Supreme Court remanded the case for reconsideration based on a recent decision.

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