In re Interest of M.D.H., S16G0428

CourtSupreme Court of Georgia
Writing for the CourtNAHMIAS, Justice.
Citation793 S.E.2d 49,300 Ga. 46
Parties IN The INTEREST OF M.D.H., a Child. In The Interest of D.V.H., a Child.
Decision Date31 October 2016
Docket NumberS16G0428,S16G0546

300 Ga. 46
793 S.E.2d 49

IN The INTEREST OF M.D.H., a Child.

In The Interest of D.V.H., a Child.

S16G0428
S16G0546

Supreme Court of Georgia.

Decided: October 31, 2016


Carver & DeBord, P.C. 360 West Main Street Canton, Georgia 30114, for Appellant in S16G0428.

J. Clifford Head, Shannon Glover Wallace, Wallace W. Rogers Jr., A.D.A., Cherokee County District Attorney's Office, 90 North Street Suite 390, Canton, Georgia 30114, for Appellee in S16G0428.

Stephen A. Bradley, District Attorney, Joseph Mark McKinnon, Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit District Attorney's Office, 121 North Wilkinson Street Suite 305, Milledgeville, Georgia 31061, for Appellant in S16G0546.

793 S.E.2d 50

Ocmulgee Judicial Public Defenders Office, 121 N. Wilkinson Street Suite 216, Milledgeville, Georgia 31061, for Appellee in S16G0546.

NAHMIAS, Justice.

300 Ga. 46

According to OCGA § 15–11–521 (b), the State must file a petition alleging delinquency against a juvenile who is not detained within 30 days of the filing of the complaint or seek an extension of that deadline from the juvenile court. These cases present the question of what happens when the State fails to meet this requirement.

In In the Interest of M.D.H., 334 Ga.App. 394, 779 S.E.2d 433 (2015), a panel of the Court of Appeals held that the failure to comply with § 15–11–521 (b) requires dismissal of the juvenile case, but the dismissal is without prejudice. See M.D.H., 334 Ga.App. at 395, 779 S.E.2d 433. Three days later, a different panel answered the same question the opposite way, concluding that a violation of § 15–11–121 (b) requires dismissal with prejudice. See In the Interest of D.V.H., 335 Ga.App. 299, 299, 779 S.E.2d 122 (2015). We granted certiorari in both cases, asking whether the Court of Appeals correctly applied OCGA § 15–11–521 (b). The cases were orally argued on June 20, 2016, and they have been consolidated for opinion. In conformity with the precedent in this area, we now hold that if the State fails to file a delinquency petition within the required 30 days or to seek and receive an extension of that deadline, the case must be dismissed

300 Ga. 47

without prejudice. Accordingly, we affirm the Court of Appeals' judgment in M.D.H., and we reverse the judgment in D.V.H.

Case No. S16G0428 (M.D.H.)

1. On December 5, 2014, a sheriff's investigator filed a complaint against M.D.H., who was then 13 years old, in the Cherokee County Juvenile Court. The complaint alleged that M.D.H. committed the delinquent act of making terroristic threats by sending threatening text messages telling people that he was going to bring guns to his middle school and threatening to kill his friend if the friend told anyone. A detention hearing was held the same day, but M.D.H. was not detained.

On January 6, 2015, a petition alleging delinquency against M.D.H. was filed in the juvenile court. M.D.H. filed a motion to dismiss the petition because it was not filed within 30 days of the complaint as required by OCGA § 15–11–521 (b), and no request for an extension of time was filed by the State or granted by the juvenile court.1 After a hearing at which the State admitted that it missed the deadline set by § 15–11–521 (b) and did not ask for an extension, the juvenile court dismissed the case on January 28. In its order, the court noted that the parties disagreed as to whether the dismissal should be with or without prejudice. The court held that the dismissal was without prejudice, considering precedent interpreting the former Juvenile Code and reasoning that, "given the seriousness of the charge, the General Assembly could not have intended for dismissal with prejudice" to be the remedy for an untimely petition. M.D.H. appealed the juvenile court's order to the Court of Appeals.

Meanwhile, on January 26, 2015, a different investigator filed a new complaint against M.D.H., alleging again that he committed the delinquent act of making terroristic threats based on the facts alleged in the December 5, 2014 complaint. On January 29, 2015, the State filed a petition based on the new complaint. M.D.H. filed a motion to dismiss the petition, which the juvenile court denied on the ground that the first petition had been dismissed without prejudice. The case proceeded to trial on the second petition, and M.D.H. was adjudicated delinquent for the lesser-included offense of reckless conduct and placed on probation. M.D.H. appealed his adjudication, alleging that because the first petition should have been dismissed with prejudice, the second petition should also have been dismissed.

300 Ga. 48

The Court of Appeals consolidated the two appeals and affirmed the juvenile court's dismissal of the first petition without prejudice and denial of the motion to dismiss the second petition. See M.D.H., 334 Ga.App. at 395, 779 S.E.2d 433. The Court of Appeals relied

793 S.E.2d 51

primarily on this Court's decision in In the Interest of R.D.F., 266 Ga. 294, 466 S.E.2d 572 (1996), which was decided before the enactment of OCGA § 15–11–521 and held that the failure to comply with former OCGA § 15–11–26 (a), which established a deadline for setting the adjudicatory hearing in juvenile cases, resulted in dismissal of the case without prejudice. See M.D.H., 334 Ga.App. at 398, 779 S.E.2d 433. M.D.H. petitioned this Court for a writ of certiorari, which we granted.2

Case No. S16G0546 (D.V.H.)

2. On October 8, 2014, two complaints were filed against D.V.H., who was then 16 years old, in the Jasper County Juvenile Court. The complaints alleged that D.V.H. committed the delinquent acts of criminal trespass and theft by taking (misdemeanors) and criminal damage to property in the second degree (a felony) when he trespassed on private property, stole a surveillance camera, and damaged a pick-up truck. The 30–day deadline imposed by OCGA § 15–11–521 (b) for filing a delinquency petition against D.V.H. passed on November 8. On November 20, the State filed a motion requesting that the juvenile court extend the time for filing the petition. After a hearing, the court denied the motion on December 3, ruling that the State failed to show good cause for missing the deadline, and the court dismissed the two cases.

On December 8, 2014, two new complaints were filed against D.V.H., alleging the same facts and criminal acts alleged in the October 8 complaints. Petitions alleging delinquency based on these complaints were filed on December 16. At the arraignment hearing, D.V.H. moved to dismiss the new petitions on the ground that they were not timely filed pursuant to OCGA § 15–11–521 (b), because they were filed more than 30 days after the complaints that first alleged the conduct at issue. The juvenile court agreed and dismissed the petitions, holding that "the time limits in the Juvenile Courts of this State must be strictly construed in favor of the accused and that refiling a case under a new number to reset the time limits circumvents

300 Ga. 49

the purpose of the time limits."3

The State appealed the dismissals to the Court of Appeals, which affirmed the juvenile court's order. See D.V.H., 335 Ga.App. at 299, 779 S.E.2d 122. The Court of Appeals first reasoned that the Juvenile Code's definition of "complaint" as "the initial document setting out the circumstances that resulted in a child being brought before the court," OCGA § 15–11–2 (14), meant that the new complaints were not "complaints" that reset the 30–day period under § 15–11–521 (b) because they set forth the same circumstances as the original complaints. See D.V.H., 335 Ga.App. at 300, 779 S.E.2d 122. The court also cited In the Interest of C.B., 313 Ga.App. 778, 723 S.E.2d 21 (2012), in reasoning that allowing the State to file new complaints to reset the deadline for filing a delinquency petition would eviscerate the time limitation established by § 15–11–521 (b). See D.V.H., 335 Ga.App. at 300–301, 779 S.E.2d 122. The Court of Appeals' panel did not mention the decision by another panel in M.D.H. that had issued three days earlier.

When the State raised M.D.H. on motion for reconsideration, the D.V.H. panel acknowledged that "there may be some tension between the analysis" in the two cases, but distinguished M.D.H. on the ground that it arose from a "significantly different procedural posture," because the State in that case had not sought and been denied an extension of time. D.V.H., 335 Ga.App. at 301, 779 S.E.2d 122. D.V.H. then filed a petition for certiorari, which we granted.

Analysis

3. As an initial matter, the Court of Appeals in D.V.H. was incorrect in concluding on motion for reconsideration that M.D.H. and D.V.H. are meaningfully distinguishable

793 S.E.2d 52

because of their "significantly different procedural posture." Whether the State does not seek an extension of the statutory deadline for filing a delinquency petition (as in M.D.H.) or seeks an extension but is denied (as in D.V.H.) does...

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15 practice notes
  • Quynn v. Hulsey, S19G1612
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Georgia
    • November 2, 2020
    ...(concluding nothing in newly enacted statute inconsistent with general jurisdictional background rule); In the Interest of M. D. H. , 300 Ga. 46, 53 (4), 793 S.E.2d 49 (2016) ("[W]e presume that the General Assembly enacted the statute with reference to our decision in [ In the Interest of ......
  • Quynn v. Hulsey, S19G1612
    • United States
    • Georgia Supreme Court
    • November 2, 2020
    ...(concluding nothing in newly enacted statute inconsistent with general jurisdictional background rule); In the Interest of M. D. H. , 300 Ga. 46, 53 (4), 793 S.E.2d 49 (2016) ("[W]e presume that the General Assembly enacted the statute with reference to our decision in [ In the Interest of ......
  • Walker v. State, S20G1471
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Georgia
    • October 19, 2021
    ...prejudice for want of prosecution" (citing State v. Bachan , 321 Ga. App. 712, 742 S.E.2d 526 (2013) )); In the Interest of M.D.H. , 300 Ga. 46, 52, 793 S.E.2d 49 (2016) (citing Court of Appeals decision "holding in the criminal context that before jeopardy attaches, the remedy for failure ......
  • Walker v. State, S20G1471
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Georgia
    • October 19, 2021
    ...without prejudice for want of prosecution" (citing State v. Bachan, 321 Ga.App. 712 (742 S.E.2d 526) (2013))); In the Interest of M.D.H., 300 Ga. 46, 52 (793 S.E.2d 49) (2016) (citing Court of Appeals decision "holding in the criminal context that before jeopardy attaches, the remedy for fa......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
15 cases
  • Quynn v. Hulsey, S19G1612
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Georgia
    • November 2, 2020
    ...(concluding nothing in newly enacted statute inconsistent with general jurisdictional background rule); In the Interest of M. D. H. , 300 Ga. 46, 53 (4), 793 S.E.2d 49 (2016) ("[W]e presume that the General Assembly enacted the statute with reference to our decision in [ In the Interest of ......
  • Quynn v. Hulsey, S19G1612
    • United States
    • Georgia Supreme Court
    • November 2, 2020
    ...(concluding nothing in newly enacted statute inconsistent with general jurisdictional background rule); In the Interest of M. D. H. , 300 Ga. 46, 53 (4), 793 S.E.2d 49 (2016) ("[W]e presume that the General Assembly enacted the statute with reference to our decision in [ In the Interest of ......
  • Walker v. State, S20G1471
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Georgia
    • October 19, 2021
    ...prejudice for want of prosecution" (citing State v. Bachan , 321 Ga. App. 712, 742 S.E.2d 526 (2013) )); In the Interest of M.D.H. , 300 Ga. 46, 52, 793 S.E.2d 49 (2016) (citing Court of Appeals decision "holding in the criminal context that before jeopardy attaches, the remedy for failure ......
  • Walker v. State, S20G1471
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Georgia
    • October 19, 2021
    ...without prejudice for want of prosecution" (citing State v. Bachan, 321 Ga.App. 712 (742 S.E.2d 526) (2013))); In the Interest of M.D.H., 300 Ga. 46, 52 (793 S.E.2d 49) (2016) (citing Court of Appeals decision "holding in the criminal context that before jeopardy attaches, the remedy for fa......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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