In re A.C.C., No. ED 106153

CourtCourt of Appeal of Missouri (US)
Writing for the CourtJames M. Dowd, Judge
Citation561 S.W.3d 425
Decision Date02 October 2018
Docket NumberNo. ED 106153
Parties IN the INTEREST OF A.C.C.

561 S.W.3d 425

IN the INTEREST OF A.C.C.

No. ED 106153

Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District, DIVISION THREE.

Filed: October 2, 2018
Motions for Rehearing and/or Transfer to Supreme Court Denied November 5, 2018


FOR APPELLANT: Craig Allan Johnston, Woodrail Centre, 1000 West Nifong, Building 7, Suite 100, Columbia, Missouri 65203.

FOR RESPONDENT: Charlene E. Stockman, 1700 S. River Road, St. Charles, Missouri 63303.

OPINION

James M. Dowd, Judge

A.C.C. (Juvenile) appeals from the judgment of the Juvenile Division of the Circuit Court of St. Charles County which adjudicated him to be delinquent pursuant to the provisions of § 211.031.1(3)1 and committed him to the custody of the Division of Youth Services. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm.

Factual and Procedural Background

The petition filed in this case by the juvenile officer alleged Juvenile, age 15 at the time of the offense, had deviate sexual intercourse with D.D., a minor less than age 14. The petition alleged Juvenile's conduct if committed by an adult would warrant a charge of felony statutory sodomy in the first degree in violation of § 566.062.

On October 16, 2017, the juvenile court held a joint adjudication and disposition hearing. During the adjudication portion of the hearing, Juvenile’s counsel informed the court that Juvenile was "a little bit conflicted all of a sudden." After a brief recess, and a conversation between Juvenile and his counsel, Juvenile took the stand. Juvenile’s father objected to his son taking the stand, which prompted the court to respond that the hearing would proceed "because I do think it’s in your son’s best interest to do so." While Juvenile was on the stand, his counsel introduced a waiver of rights and stipulation to jurisdiction form which Juvenile and counsel had previously signed. Pursuant to that document, Juvenile stipulated that the facts underlying the charges in the petition were accurate, that he was not under the influence of alcohol or drugs when he signed the stipulation, and that he waived certain rights, including the right to trial with the assistance of counsel.

Although Juvenile equivocated at certain points during his testimony, he testified that he understood that he possessed the following rights but that he was waiving them: to deny the charges against him, to trial, to counsel, to question any witness called against him, to remain silent, and to not testify. The court informed Juvenile that if it accepted Juvenile’s waiver he would not be allowed to live within 1,000 feet of the victim until the victim reached the age of 18. At that point Juvenile asked whether, pursuant to the disposition, he would have to register as an adult sex offender. Both the juvenile officer’s counsel

561 S.W.3d 428

and the court represented to Juvenile that he would not have to do so.

The court then asked Juvenile for the second time whether he understood he was giving up his right to trial. Juvenile responded "yes and no." After counsel reminded Juvenile of their previous conversation, Juvenile responded "Okay. I guess." Juvenile, however, again stated that he did not really understand and that his "brain ain't working." At that point, Juvenile’s mother stated Juvenile should "plead guilty," which prompted Juvenile to respond, "That’s what I want to do." Juvenile’s counsel then said "[i]t just means that you're pleading guilty instead of having a trial. And that’s what you—you want to do and you understand that, right?" Juvenile responded in the affirmative.

The court asked Juvenile whether he understood that the court was not bound by the recommendations of counsel. Juvenile stated at first that he did not understand but after the court clarified its question Juvenile stated that he understood.

Then the juvenile officer outlined the evidence in support of the petition and the court asked Juvenile if that evidence was true. Juvenile admitted that it was. The court then found beyond a reasonable doubt that Juvenile committed an act that would have constituted felony statutory sodomy in the first degree in violation of § 566.062 if he were an adult, and as a result the juvenile court had jurisdiction over Juvenile pursuant to § 211.031.1 (3).

The court moved to the disposition portion of the hearing and entered its judgment committing Juvenile to the Division of Youth Services for an indefinite term and ordered him to register as a juvenile sex offender. The judgment did not require Juvenile to register as an adult sex offender. This appeal follows.

Standard of Review

The parties agree that Juvenile’s sole point relied on was not preserved for appeal. Therefore, we review for plain error. Our analysis under plain error review requires a two-step process. First, we determine whether the trial court committed plain error, which is error that is "evident, obvious, and clear." State v. Ragland , 494 S.W.3d 613, 627 (Mo.App.E.D. 2016) (internal citations omitted). If we find plain error, we look to the second prong: whether, as a result of the error, a manifest injustice or miscarriage of justice actually occurred. Id.

Discussion

Juvenile asserts the juvenile court violated his right to due process when it accepted Juvenile’s admission of the charges alleged in the petition. Specifically, Juvenile asserts that the record fails to show that his admission of the facts contained in the petition and his waiver of jurisdiction were done intelligently and voluntarily.

Juvenile proceedings are civil, not criminal, and are focused on continuing care, protection, and rehabilitation of the juvenile, not punishment. J. D. H. v. Juvenile Court of St. Louis County , 508 S.W.2d 497, 500 (Mo.banc 1974). Nevertheless, "civil labels and good intentions do not themselves obviate the need for criminal due process safeguards in juvenile courts, for a proceeding where the issue is whether the child will be found to be delinquent and subjected to the loss of his liberty for years is comparable in seriousness to a felony prosecution." In re Winship, 397 U.S. 358, 365-66, 90 S.Ct. 1068, 25 L.Ed.2d 368 (1970) ; see also In re N.D.C. , 229 S.W.3d 602, 605 (Mo.banc 2007) ("[T]he constitutional protections applicable in criminal proceedings are also applicable in juvenile delinquency proceedings due to the possibility of a deprivation of liberty

561 S.W.3d 429

equivalent to criminal incarceration."). While the Fourteenth Amendment2 does not require juvenile delinquency proceedings to conform to all the requirements of a criminal trial,3 the Due Process Clause does require adjudicatory hearings to apply "the essentials of due process and fair treatment." In re Winship, 397 U.S. at 359, 90 S.Ct. 1068 (quoting In re Gault , 387 U.S. 1, 13, 87 S.Ct. 1428, 18 L.Ed.2d 527 (1967) ); see also T.S.G. v. Juvenile Officer , 322 S.W.3d 145, 149 (Mo.App.W.D. 2010) ("It has long been settled that due process and fair treatment are required in juvenile court adjudications....").

This Court has found no Missouri case specifically addressing due process in the context of the admission by a juvenile to the allegations contained in a juvenile officer’s petition and the waiver of the right to trial. However, in In Interest of N.R.W., 482 S.W.3d 473, 477 (Mo.App.E.D. 2016), we recently addressed the constitutional implications of a juvenile’s waiver of counsel in juvenile delinquency proceedings. In N.R.W., we held that the right to counsel is a fundamental right necessary to ensure fairness and that the constitutional protections for a juvenile to validly waive counsel are no less than what are afforded to adults in criminal proceedings. Id. We find N.R.W. persuasive to our analysis here.

And we find, therefore, that before waiving jurisdiction and admitting to the facts in a petition filed in a delinquency proceeding, juveniles are entitled to the same minimum due process rights afforded adult criminal defendants during guilty pleas. That is, "[a] plea must not only be a voluntary expression of...

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6 practice notes
  • In re Interest of D.H., ED 109226
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • May 3, 2022
    ...criminal, and are focused on continuing care, protection, and rehabilitation of the juvenile, and not punishment." In re A.C.C. , 561 S.W.3d 425, 428 (Mo. App. E.D. 2018) (citing J.D.H. v. Juvenile Court of St. Louis Cty. , 508 S.W.2d 497, 500 (Mo. banc 1974) ). However, "the cons......
  • In re Interest of C.A.M., ED 109128
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • May 3, 2022
    ...criminal, and are focused on continuing care, protection, and rehabilitation of the juvenile, and not punishment." In re A.C.C. , 561 S.W.3d 425, 428 (Mo. App. E.D. 2018) (citing J.D.H. v. Juvenile Court of St. Louis Cty. , 508 S.W.2d 497, 500 (Mo. banc 1974) ). However, "the cons......
  • In re Interest of J.R., ED 109245
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • October 19, 2021
    ...and, therefore, are similarly guaranteed due process and fair treatment pursuant to the Due Process Clause. In Interest of A.C.C. , 561 S.W.3d 425, 428–29 (Mo. App. E.D. 2018) ; see also In re N.D.C. , 229 S.W.3d 602, 605 (Mo. banc 2007). Like criminal defendants, juveniles’ rights under th......
  • In re C.A.M., ED109128
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • May 3, 2022
    ...not criminal, and are focused on continuing care, protection, and rehabilitation of the juvenile, and not punishment." In re A.C.C., 561 S.W.3d 425, 428 (Mo. App. E.D. 2018) (citing J.D.H. v. Juvenile Court of St. Louis Cty., 508 S.W.2d 497, 500 (Mo. banc 1974)). However, "the con......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
6 cases
  • In re Interest of D.H., ED 109226
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • May 3, 2022
    ...criminal, and are focused on continuing care, protection, and rehabilitation of the juvenile, and not punishment." In re A.C.C. , 561 S.W.3d 425, 428 (Mo. App. E.D. 2018) (citing J.D.H. v. Juvenile Court of St. Louis Cty. , 508 S.W.2d 497, 500 (Mo. banc 1974) ). However, "the cons......
  • In re Interest of C.A.M., ED 109128
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • May 3, 2022
    ...criminal, and are focused on continuing care, protection, and rehabilitation of the juvenile, and not punishment." In re A.C.C. , 561 S.W.3d 425, 428 (Mo. App. E.D. 2018) (citing J.D.H. v. Juvenile Court of St. Louis Cty. , 508 S.W.2d 497, 500 (Mo. banc 1974) ). However, "the cons......
  • In re Interest of J.R., ED 109245
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • October 19, 2021
    ...and, therefore, are similarly guaranteed due process and fair treatment pursuant to the Due Process Clause. In Interest of A.C.C. , 561 S.W.3d 425, 428–29 (Mo. App. E.D. 2018) ; see also In re N.D.C. , 229 S.W.3d 602, 605 (Mo. banc 2007). Like criminal defendants, juveniles’ rights under th......
  • In re C.A.M., ED109128
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • May 3, 2022
    ...not criminal, and are focused on continuing care, protection, and rehabilitation of the juvenile, and not punishment." In re A.C.C., 561 S.W.3d 425, 428 (Mo. App. E.D. 2018) (citing J.D.H. v. Juvenile Court of St. Louis Cty., 508 S.W.2d 497, 500 (Mo. banc 1974)). However, "the con......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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