State v. Schofield, No. 20000637.

CourtUtah Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtRUSSON, Justice
Citation2002 UT 132,63 P.3d 667
PartiesSTATE of Utah, Plaintiff and Appellee, v. Wade N. SCHOFIELD, Defendant and Appellant.
Docket NumberNo. 20000637.
Decision Date27 December 2002

63 P.3d 667
2002 UT 132

STATE of Utah, Plaintiff and Appellee,
Wade N. SCHOFIELD, Defendant and Appellant

No. 20000637.

Supreme Court of Utah.

December 27, 2002.

63 P.3d 668
Mark L. Shurtleff, Att'y Gen., Kris C. Leonard, Asst. Att'y Gen., Salt Lake City, and Brian J. Namba, Farmington, for plaintiff

Laura K. Thompson, Ogden, for defendant.

RUSSON, Justice:

¶ 1 Wade N. Schofield ("Schofield") appeals a decision from the Second District Court of Utah ("district court") denying his motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction. Schofield claims that his case properly belongs before the juvenile court, while the State contends that the district court has jurisdiction. We affirm and remand to the district court for trial on the merits.


¶ 2 The facts and procedural history are not in dispute. On November 16, 1999, when Schofield was more than twenty-two years old,1 the Division of Child and Family Services ("DCFS") in Utah County faxed a report of child sexual abuse to the Syracuse Police Department ("SPD") in Davis County.

63 P.3d 669
The report alleged that Schofield had, several years earlier, sexually abused J.S. and C.S., his nieces. Detective Mark Sessions ("Sessions") contacted DCFS in Utah County and interviewed the alleged victims on November 22, 1999. In the interviews, both J.S. and C.S. confirmed allegations that Schofield had sexually abused them when he was sixteen or seventeen years old and they were six or seven years old and nine or ten years old, respectively

¶ 3 Sessions contacted Schofield on November 23, 1999, and arranged an interview at SPD. In the course of the interview, Schofield made incriminating statements. Accordingly, Sessions referred the case to the Davis County Attorney, who filed the information in the district court on March 13, 2000. Based on conduct alleged to have occurred on or about September 1, 1994, Schofield was charged with one count of rape of a child, a first degree felony in violation of Utah Code Ann. § 76-5-402.1 (1995), two counts of sodomy on a child, both first degree felonies in violation of Utah Code Ann. § 76-5-403.1 (1995), and two counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child, both first degree felonies in violation of Utah Code Ann. § 76-5-404.1 (1995).

¶ 4 Schofield moved to dismiss the case, arguing that because the alleged events occurred while he was a minor the case properly belongs before the juvenile court. The district court denied the motion, ruling that the juvenile court lost any jurisdiction over Schofield when he turned twenty-one, and that he was subsequently under jurisdiction of the district court.

¶ 5 On September 27, 2000, this court granted Schofield's petition for interlocutory review of the district court's decision.


¶ 6 At issue in this case are the relative jurisdictions of the district and juvenile courts, which are established by statute. See generally Utah Code Ann. §§ 78-3-4, 78-3a-104 (1996) (delineating the respective jurisdictions of the district and juvenile courts). The case is therefore one of statutory interpretation, a question of law we review on appeal for correctness. State v. Burns, 2000 UT 56, ¶ 15, 4 P.3d 795; State v. Larsen, 865 P.2d 1355, 1357 (Utah 1993); State v. Petersen, 810 P.2d 421, 424 (Utah 1991).



¶ 7 Section 78-3a-104 of the Utah Code provides in pertinent part for the jurisdiction of the juvenile court as follows:

(1) Except as otherwise provided by law, the juvenile court has exclusive original jurisdiction in proceedings concerning:
(a) a minor who has violated any federal, state, or local law or municipal ordinance or a person younger than 21 years of age who has violated any law or ordinance before becoming 18 years of age....

Utah Code Ann. § 78-3a-104(1)(a) (1996).2

¶ 8 "`When interpreting statutes, we determine the statute's meaning by first looking to the statute's plain language, and give effect to the plain language unless the language is ambiguous.'" Wilson Supply, Inc. v. Fradan Mfg. Corp., 2002 UT 94, ¶ 14, 54 P.3d 1177 (quoting Blackner v. State Dep't of Transp., 2002 UT 44, ¶ 12, 48 P.3d 949); see also State Dep't of Natural Res. v. Huntington-Cleveland Irrigation Co., 2002 UT 75, ¶ 13, 52 P.3d 1257. Furthermore, "[t]he plain language of a statute is to be read as a whole, and its provisions interpreted in harmony with other provisions in the same statute

63 P.3d 670
and `with other statutes under the same and related chapters.'" Lyon v. Burton, 2000 UT 19, ¶ 17, 5 P.3d 616 (quoting Roberts v. Erickson, 851 P.2d 643, 644 (Utah 1993) (per curiam) (further citations omitted)); see also Silver v. Auditing Div., 820 P.2d 912, 914 (Utah 1991); Osuala v. Aetna Life & Cas., 608 P.2d 242, 243 (Utah 1980)

¶ 9 The plain language of the statute in question creates two classes of offenders for determining jurisdiction of the juvenile court: (1) those who commit crimes while under age eighteen and are charged before reaching age twenty-one, and (2) those who commit crimes while under age eighteen and are charged after reaching age twenty-one. Only the first class of offenders comes under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court. This plain language reading is also in harmony with another provision in the same statute. Section 78-3a-501 reads in relevant part:

(1) If, during the pendency of a criminal or quasi-criminal proceeding in another court, including a preliminary hearing, it is determined that the person charged is under 21 years of age and was less than 18 years of age at the time of committing the alleged offense, the court shall transfer the case to the juvenile court....

Utah Code Ann. § 78-3a-501(1) (1996). Thus, the legislature clearly contemplated that the juvenile court would have...

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