In re Daniel B., 519132

Decision Date04 June 2015
Docket Number519132
Citation2015 N.Y. Slip Op. 04698,129 A.D.3d 1152,10 N.Y.S.3d 710
PartiesIn the Matter of DANIEL B., Alleged to be a Juvenile Delinquent. Beatrice Havranek, as Ulster County Attorney, Respondent; Daniel B., Appellant. (And Another Related Proceeding).
CourtNew York Supreme Court — Appellate Division

John Ferrara, Monticello, for appellant.

Beatrice Havranek, County Attorney, Kingston (Kristin A. Gumaer of counsel), for respondent.




Appeal from an order of the Family Court of Ulster County (Mizel, J.), entered March 18, 2014, which granted petitioner's applications, in two proceedings pursuant to Family Ct. Act article 3, to adjudicate respondent a juvenile delinquent.

Respondent (born in 1997) was allegedly involved in an April 23, 2013 assault during which he threatened the victim with a knife. He was charged in a June 2013 petition with committing acts that, if committed by an adult, would constitute the crime of attempted assault in the third degree. School officials learned on April 25, 2013 that respondent had been involved in an altercation and they recovered a folding knife with a three-inch blade after searching his book bag. Accordingly, respondent was charged in an August 2013 petition with unlawful possession of a weapon by a person under the age of 16. Following successive fact-finding hearings, Family Court determined that the charges in both petitions had been established. Respondent ultimately waived a dispositional hearing and Family Court, in an order encompassing both proceedings, adjudicated him to be a juvenile delinquent and placed him on probation for one year. Respondent now appeals.

We affirm. Respondent first contends that dismissal of the June 2013 petition is required because Family Court failed to conduct a timely initial appearance. Because he was not detained, Family Ct. Act § 320.2(1) required that the initial appearance occur “as soon as practicable and, absent good cause shown, within [10] days after” the filing of the petition. The initial appearance, “like the arraignment of an adult charged with a crime, is the process by which the court obtains jurisdiction over the minor, determines if detention is warranted, and sets the dates for further proceedings” (Matter of Robert O., 87 N.Y.2d 9, 15, 637 N.Y.S.2d 329, 660 N.E.2d 1108 [1995] ; see Family Ct. Act § 320.4 ). Dismissal is appropriate where a respondent is deprived of his or her right to a speedy fact-finding hearing, a hearing that must occur “not more than [60] days after the conclusion of the initial appearance” if he or she is not confined (Family Ct. Act § 340.1 [2] ; see Family Ct. Act §§ 310.2, 332.1[8] ). A “similar protected status” is not afforded to the initial appearance itself, although “dismissal without prejudice may be an appropriate remedy” if it is not held in a timely manner (Matter of Robert O., 87 N.Y.2d at 13, 15, 637 N.Y.S.2d 329, 660 N.E.2d 1108 [emphasis added] ). To put it succinctly, dismissal is not mandated in the wake of an untimely initial appearance so long as respondent's right to a speedy fact-finding hearing is not violated (see Matter of Steven S., 238 A.D.2d 226, 228, 657 N.Y.S.2d 10 [1997] ; Matter of Willie E., 216 A.D.2d 645, 647, 627 N.Y.S.2d 812 [1995], affd. 88 N.Y.2d 205, 644 N.Y.S.2d 130, 666 N.E.2d 1043 [1996] ).

An initial appearance within 10 days of filing was attempted with regard to the June 2013 petition, but respondent failed to appear and may not have been served with the petition. His counsel did appear, offering no opposition to the suggestion of Family Court that it reissue process and adjourn the initial appearance. Respondent appeared on the adjourned date five days later, at which time he failed to object to the timeliness of the initial appearance and affirmatively waived his right to a speedy trial. Under these circumstances, respondent will not now be heard to complain of the belated initial appearance (see Matter of Kevin G., 159 Misc.2d 288, 297, 604 N.Y.S.2d 669 [1993] ; see also Matter of Ryan LL., 119 A.D.3d 994, 995, 990 N.Y.S.2d 114 [2014], lv. denied 25 N.Y.3d 904, 7 N.Y.S.3d 276, 30 N.E.3d 167 [2015] ).

Respondent next asserts that the determination of Family Court was against the weight of the evidence in various respects. [W]hen presented with such an argument, ‘where a different determination would not have been unreasonable, we view the evidence in a neutral light while according deference to the credibility determinations of Family Court (Matter of Gordon B., 83 A.D.3d 1164, 1166, 920 N.Y.S.2d 798 [2011], lv. denied 17 N.Y.3d 710, 2011 WL 4388258 [2011], quoting Matter of Jared WW., 56 A.D.3d 1009, 1010, 868 N.Y.S.2d 350 [2008] ). Initially, because respondent never disputed the assertion in both petitions that he was 15 years old when the incidents occurred, petitioner was not obliged to submit evidence establishing respondent's age at the fact-finding hearings (see Matter of Donald F., 97 A.D.2d 980, 980, 468 N.Y.S.2d 784 [1983] ). As for the April 23, 2013 incident, Family Court credited the testimony of the victim that respondent and others pursued him after exiting a school bus. Sensing the futility of fighting multiple individuals, the victim dropped into a fetal position after a brief chase, and respondent proceeded to repeatedly kick him in the ribs and legs. Respondent then displayed a knife to the victim as he left the scene.1 Turning to the April 25, 2013 incident, there is no dispute that school officials recovered a knife from responden...

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