USA v. JDT, Juvenile Male

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Law
  • Date Filed: 08-12-2014
  • Case #: 12-10005
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Alarcón for the Court; District Judge Zouhary; Concurrence by Circuit Judge Berzon
  • Full Text Opinion

In order to establish jurisdiction under 18 U.S.C. § 5032, the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Act, mere certification is sufficient, subject to circumstances questioning its “accuracy or validity”; in addition, aggravated sexual abuse charges in regards to children pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 2241(c) will be applied to anyone charged with a crime therein, which includes juveniles under the age of twelve, requiring only a showing of knowledge of facts underlying the charge.

In February 2011, JDT, a juvenile, was charged with six counts of aggravated sexual abuse of five boys between the ages of five and six years old, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2241(c). JDT argued: (1) that the district court did not have jurisdiction over FJDA proceedings because the Government failed to establish valid certification; (2) that § 2241(c) fails to address situations where both the offender and the victim are under the age of twelve, which creates vagueness and ambiguity; and, (3) that the district court incorrectly applied the mens rea element of § 2241(c). After an initial finding of juvenile delinquency, JDT filed a Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure Rule 35(a) motion to suspend, which the district court denied. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit Court held that mere certification is sufficient in giving the district court jurisdiction over 18 U.S.C. § 5032, the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Act, proceedings, subject to circumstances questioning its “accuracy or validity.” Secondly, § 2241(c) is not vague or ambiguous because it puts JDT on notice, whereby it is delineated that anyone charged with an aggravated sexual abuse charge against a child is subject to prosecution. Thirdly, the district court correctly applied the term “knowingly” because the statute only requires knowledge of facts constituting the sexual offense not a culpable state of mind. Lastly, the panel concluded that the district court did not have jurisdiction to deny JDT’s Rule 35(a) motion because the fourteen-day timing constraints were not met, and the factors supporting a finding of suspension were not balanced. In vacating the district court’s determination of juvenile delinquency, the panel held that all disposition options, including a suspension of delinquency, must be properly considered. AFFIRMED in PART, VACATED in PART, and REMANDED.

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