JUVENILE COURT LACKED JURISDICTION TO ADJUDICATE JUVENILE DELINQUENT FOR CORRUPTION OF MINORS
The Pennsylvania a. Superior Court recently reversed and vacated the adjudication of a juvenile stemming from a “Corruption of Minors “ charge. The Court held that where a crime under the law of this Commonwealth requires the perpetrator be an adult, such an offense cannot be deemed a delinquent act within the jurisdiction of the juvenile court.
J.C. was petitioned (charged) in juvenile court after another student alleged that J.C. had “touched her in inappropriate and unwanted ways” on a school bus.
J.C. was 15 years old at the time he committed the alleged offense.
J.C. ultimately executed a written “admission colloquy form,” admitting to COM, a first-degree misdemeanor. In exchange for J.C.’s admission, the Commonwealth agreed to nolle prosse all other charges. The Juvenile Court thereafter conducted an oral colloquy, accepted J.C.’s admission, and ordered J.C. to serve one year of probation.
J.C. filed an appeal raising several issues involving the “Sexual Offender Evaluation,” DNA sample he was required to produce, and alleging a Brady violation due to the failure to preserve the school bus surveillance video. The Superior Court, on their own, addressed an issue NOT raised by the juvenile through his attorney: Whether the offense for which he was adjudicated delinquent was a delinquent act within the jurisdiction of the juvenile court.
The Superior Court first noted that the legislature has created a separate legal system for the adjudication of juvenile offenders. In order to adjudicate a child delinquent, the juvenile court must (1) determine that the juvenile has committed a delinquent act and (2) determine that the juvenile requires treatment, supervision, or rehabilitation. A delinquent act is “an act designated a crime under the law of this Commonwealth.”
In this case, the juvenile entered an admission to “Corruption of Minors” which is a crime under the laws of this Commonwealth. However, the Commonwealth must prove that the actor was “the age of 18 years and upwards.” As noted by the Superior Court, “by its plain language, [the statute] seeks to prevent prohibited actions between minors and individuals 18 years or older, otherwise defined as an adult.”
Since J.C. was 15 years old at the time he committed the alleged offense, he was incapable of committing the acts ascribed to him— namely, being of the age of 18 years and upwards. As such, the court exceeded its jurisdictional authority in adjudicating him delinquent.