Articles Posted in Juvenile Law

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Appellant was adjudicated a delinquent juvenile for committing a sexual offense that required him to register as an offender under the Wyoming Sexual Offender Registration Act (WSORA). Appellant later entered a conditional guilty plea to two felony counts for failing to report changes in his address, as required by the WSORA. Appellant appealed his convictions, claiming that the WSORA is unconstitutional. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Wyoming Juvenile Justice Act does not conflict irreconcilably with the WSORA’s registry requirements for adjudicated juvenile offenders; (2) the WSORA does not violate the Wyoming Constitution’s equal protection clause; (3) Appellant failed to establish that the WSORA’s lifetime registration requirement violates his due process rights; and (4) the WSORA does not violate the ex post facto clause of the United States Constitution. View "Vaughn v. State" on Justia Law

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Appellant, a juvenile, was convicted and sentenced. The Supreme Court reversed Appellant’s sentence, instructing that, if a sentence of life according to law was imposed, the district court must specify a period of parole ineligibility. The district court did as instructed and imposed a sentence of life according to law with the specification that Appellant was eligible for parole on the sentence after thirty-five years. The Supreme Court vacated the sentence imposed by the district court, holding that Appellant should be resentenced because the district court did not consider the analysis from Miller v. Alabama “in light of the entire sentencing package.” View "Sen v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Juvenile Law

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Defendant pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, aggravated burglary, and conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary. Defendant was sixteen years old when he committed the crimes. After imposing an initial sentence, the district court resentenced Defendant to life in prison with the possibility of parole after serving for twenty-five years on the felony murder charge, to run consecutive to the previously imposed sentence for aggravated burglary of twenty to twenty-five years, and concurrent to the sentence for conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded to the district court with instructions to resentence on all counts, holding that sentencing courts are required to provide an individualized sentencing hearing to weigh the factors for determining a juvenile’s diminished culpability and greater prospects for reform when, as in this case, the aggregate sentences result the functional equivalent of life without parole. Remanded for resentencing. View "Bear Cloud v. State" on Justia Law

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MF was adjudicated a child in need of supervision (CHINS) shortly before his sixteenth birthday. Four months before MF's seventeenth birthday and after MF twice violated his probation, the juvenile court ordered that MF remain in the custody of the Department of Family Services and on probation until his eighteenth birthday. MF appealed, arguing that any CHINS order must terminate when the minor child turns seventeen. The Supreme Court reversed and vacated the juvenile court's order to the extent the order purported to have effect beyond MF's seventeenth birthday, holding that the juvenile court did not have the authority to issue a CHINS order that imposed conditions beyond MF's seventeenth birthday. View "In re MF" on Justia Law

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Petitioner, who was fifteen at the time of the crimes, was charged as an adult with nine felonies. Prior to trial, Petitioner filed a motion to transfer his case from district court to juvenile court, which the district court denied. Petitioner subsequently filed a petition for writ of review, claiming that the district court improperly placed the burden on him to establish that the case should be transferred to juvenile court. The Supreme Court granted the review. The Court then reversed, holding that the district court erred in failing to assign the burden of persuasion to the State to establish that the case should not be transferred to juvenile court. Remanded. View "JB v. State" on Justia Law

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The State filed a petition in juvenile court alleging that SWM, a minor, had committed two delinquent acts. SWM's counsel filed a motion to suspend proceedings for evaluation under Wyo. Stat. Ann. 7-11-303 and Wyo. Stat. Ann. 14-6-219. The juvenile court granted the motion, determining that sections 7-11-303 and 14-6-219 required an examination of SWM for competency to proceed. After the report under section 7-11-303 was filed, the State filed a motion asking the court to strike the portions of SWM's forensic evaluation that were conducted pursuant to section 7-11-303 as irrelevant to the proceedings. The juvenile court granted the motion and subsequently found SWM was competent to proceed. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded, holding (1) the due process considerations that underlie section 7-11-303 also apply in determining the competency of a minor under section 14-6-219; and (2) although the juvenile court ordered a competency evaluation and ruled that SWM was competent to proceed, it did not evaluate SWM under the correct standards, and therefore, SWM's due process right not to proceed unless competent was not property protected. Remanded. View "In re Interest of SWM" on Justia Law

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K.C., a juvenile, was adjudged delinquent. As part of her disposition, she was allowed to remain in a home environment and placed on supervised probation. After K.C. violated various terms of her probation, her probation was revoked and her disposition changed to placement at a state girls' school for an indefinite period. K.C. appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the juvenile court did not abuse its discretion in imposing sanctions because placement at the girls' school fell within the statutorily allowable sanctions applicable to K.C. and, thus, the court was not required to provide a written justification for the placement; (2) the juvenile court's consideration of a statement K.C. made that she would not follow the rules of a residential program did not violate K.C.'s right against self-incrimination because the statement was considered only in the dispositional phase of the delinquency proceedings; and (3) there was no violation of Wyo. R. Crim. P. 11 because the rule does not apply to juvenile delinquency proceedings. View "In re K.C." on Justia Law

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The biological mother of the child at issue appealed from the order allowing the father and stepmother's petition to adopt the minor child to proceed without the mother's consent because she did not pay child support for a year before the petition was filed. At issue was whether the district court abused its discretion by allowing the petition for adoption to proceed without the consent of the mother and whether evidence was sufficient to support a finding that the mother had willfully failed to pay child support. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by concluding that there was clear and convincing evidence that the mother willfully failed to support her child where she failed to take the necessary steps to become employed and support her child and that she failed to demonstrate that, through whatever means were available to her, she had not forgotten her legal obligation to support her child. Therefore, the court affirmed the district court's findings.