Information on current cases relevant to juvenile justice.
In order to adjudicate a child delinquent, the court must both determine that the juvenile has committed a delinquent act , and determine that the juvenile requires treatment, supervision or rehabilitation.
This appeal centers on the nature of a valid invocation of the Miranda-based right to counsel, specifically, in terms of whether the right must be asserted in close temporal proximity to custodial interrogation or may be effectively invoked remotely from such questioning.
Defendant shot someone in Philadelphia and fled to Florida. He was arrested in Florida. The lawyer sent a form letter via facsimile to Florida counsel representing Appellee in connection with the extradition proceedings, asking that Appellee sign and return the document. The letter reflected a very clear putative invocation of the Miranda-based right to counsel. He signed the letter, and it was returned to the Defender Association, which forwarded copies to the Philadelphia Police Department’s homicide unit and the Office of the District Attorney. Subsequently, Appellee waived extradition and was escorted to Philadelphia, where he remained in police custody. Six days after he had signed the non-waiver form, a detective, ignoring the letter, provided him with Miranda warnings. He confessed.
The court held that a person cannot invoke his Miranda rights anticipatorily, in a context other than custodial interrogation. To require a suspension of questioning by law enforcement officials on pain of an exclusionary remedy, an invocation of the Miranda-based right to counsel must be made upon or after actual or imminent commencement of in-custody interrogation.
The Superior Court upheld the disposition determination of the court for out-of-home placement. The decision upheld the determination of the trial court that out-of-home placement was warranted. While the serious facts of the case (see below) drove the Court’s decision to uphold the order, the case explains the expedited review process put in place as a result of the Rules Committee changes following the Interbranch Commission Report. The case discusses the procedural requirements for gaining expedited review, while also emphasizing the importance of a record to establish why a placement determination was made and why it is the least restrictive alternative.
The serious facts that factored into the Court’s decision are as follows: Petitioner admitted to aggravated assault and REAP upon the Commonwealth’s withdrawal of the criminal attempted homicide charge. He admitted to luring his physically disabled best friend into the woods, attacking him, and leaving him on a hillside unconscious. The victim did not awake until the following day, crawled out of the woods, and hospitalized for serious injuries.
In a narrow reading of B.A.M., 806 A.2d 893 (Pa. Super. 2002), panel holds that B.A.M. does not hold that a 13 year old cannot be held criminally liable for initiating sexual activity; rather, it held that one child could not be held criminally liable for the acts of two 11-year-olds who consensually engaged in the conduct. This 13 year old was exactly the kind of perp the IDSI statute was aimed at as he was much older and took advantage of a 9 year old with mental deficiencies. The opinion suggests that consensual sex between those incapable of consent by age is only non-criminal so long as neither initiates the sexual activity. The initiator may be criminally liable.
The filing of an appeal did not remove jurisdiction for the juvenile court to change its dispositional order because of Rule 610 (Dispositional and Commitment Review).
In a major victory for juvenile defenders, on November 4, 2013, the York County Court of Common Pleas ruled that Pennsylvania's recently enacted law requiring that juveniles convicted of sexual offenses be subjected to lifetime sex offender registration violated their rights under various provisions of the Pennsylvania and United States Constitutions, as well as Pennsylvania's Juvenile Act. On appeal the Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld this decision.
In this case the Court held that the 42 Pa.C.S. § 6353 limits initial commitments to juvenile facilities to the statutory maximum that the juvenile could receive if charged as an adult, or four years, whichever is less. Thus, initial commitments of more than 30 days on possession of marijuana cases charged under 35 P.S. § 780-113(a)(31) are illegal. 42 Pa.C.S. § 6353 also provides for the initial commit to be “extended for a similar period of time if the court finds that the extension will effectuate the original purpose for with the order was entered.” The JDAP position is that the Juvenile Act and Firster allow only one 30 day extension of placement on §1331. Juvenile defense attorneys should contact JDAP for more information on challenging placement for longer than 30 days on these cases
Low IQ alone does not establish the involuntariness of a guilty plea. The test for involuntariness is the same as the test for competency to stand trial: can the defendant comprehend his or her position as one accused of a crime, and can he or she cooperate with counsel in making a rational defense?