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SB 44 Trial of juveniles for certain criminal acts.

Introduced by: Mark L. Earley | all patrons    ...    notes | add to my profiles


Juvenile offenders; trial as adults; records; procedures; dispositional alternative. Prescribes procedures akin to those used in adult proceedings for trial of juveniles 14 or older charged with a felony delinquent act. In cases where such a juvenile is charged with capital, first or second degree murder, lynching or aggravated malicious wounding, a preliminary hearing will be held in the juvenile court and then the felony charge and any related charges, whether felonies or misdemeanors, will be certified to the grand jury and tried in the circuit court if probable cause is found. In cases of other serious felonies, such as felony murder, abduction, rape, carjacking, etc., the charge and related charges will be tried in the circuit court if the Commonwealth's attorney makes a request for transfer at least seven days prior to the preliminary hearing in the juvenile court. In all other felony cases, the decision to transfer is made by the juvenile court, subject to review in the circuit court. Felonies alleged or found to have been committed by a juvenile 14 or older, other than those subject to the judicial (discretionary) transfer, are referred to as violent juvenile felonies. Once the circuit court accepts the judicial transfer or the violent felony charge is certified to the grand jury, the juvenile may be detained in an adult facility.

If a juvenile is detained prior to adjudication, staff of the facility are to determine if the juvenile needs a mental health assessment and if so are to arrange for one. A provision is included to allow pre-trial detention of a juvenile in a separate facility on the site an adult regional jail facility once the felony charge is transferred or certified (Chesterfield).

The bill broadens the purpose and intent of the juvenile and domestic relations law to include the safety of the community and the protection of victims' rights in addition to the welfare of the child and the family. All proceedings in the juvenile court involving any felony and a juvenile 14 or older or any adult defendant will be open, unless the court finds good cause to close the proceeding. All court records of these open proceedings will be available to the public, except for those portions which the court orders to remain confidential in order to protect a juvenile victim or a juvenile witness, and future records involving allegations of delinquency against that juvenile, whether misdemeanor or felony, will be open as well.

Victims and witnesses are allowed access to juvenile proceedings and the Commonwealth's attorneys are to provide notice to them of hearing dates, etc.

Trial and disposition in the juvenile courts remains the same. Sentence in the circuit court is to be imposed by the judge. If the juvenile is found guilty of a violent juvenile felony, the court must impose an adult sentence, but may suspend that sentence upon terms and conditions which may be authorized upon adjudication of delinquency. If convicted only of a misdemeanor, the juvenile must be sentenced as a juvenile ( i.e., the court may impose only a sentence which would be authorized in the juvenile court upon adjudication of delinquency). If the juvenile is convicted in the circuit court of any other felony, the court may impose an adult or a juvenile sentence, including disposition as a serious offender.

In addition to the current limitation terminating indeterminate commitments at age 21, the bill limits such commitments to a maximum of 36 months ( except for murder and manslaughter) so that indeterminate commitments are not longer than determinate commitments under the serious offender law. The Board of Youth and Family Services is directed to establish length-of-stay guidelines for indeterminately committed juveniles. The court is specifically authorized to impose a period of paroled supervision to follow either a determinate or indeterminate commitment, but the maximum period of supervision may not extend beyond the juvenile's 21st birthday.

Juveniles fourteen or older, found to have committed a felony by the juvenile or the circuit court, must provide a blood sample for DNA analysis and inclusion in the states DNA data bank. Fingerprints and photographs of juvenile fourteen or older found to have committed any felony, a Class 1 or Class 2 misdemeanor and other specified offenses are to be included in the Central Criminal Records Exchange. Juvenile records in the CCRE are no longer subject to automatic expungement at age 29, but may be accessed only to determine eligibility to buy a firearm, for AFIS ( fingerprint comparison), in for sentencing purposes and in preparation of sentencing worksheets, and to assist court services units.

The Department of Youth and Family Services is authorized to contract for private operation of residential facilities, establish local detention homes ( subject to legislative approval) and to establish juvenile boot camps, provided that if state funds are to be used, an appropriation must be made for the contract. The boot camp program must include at least 6 months of aftercare.

DYFS is required to get the local school division involved whenever a juvenile is committed to the Department and the school is to become involved in the preparation of a reenrollment plan for the juvenile.

Courts are prohibited from ordering local schools divisions to reenroll any student who has been properly expelled.