Articles Posted in Juvenile Law

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Appellant Donta Vickers appealed his sentence stemming from his conviction as a habitual offender. A jury found Vickers guilty of assault second degree as a lesser-included offense of assault first degree; attempted robbery first degree; home invasion; conspiracy second degree; and three counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. Vickers did not dispute that he has been convicted of three violent felonies on three separate occasions, nor did he dispute that, at least as to all of the convictions, the requirements of the habitual offender statute, 11 Del. C. 4214(b), have been met by these offenses. Instead, Vickers argued on appeal that his conviction for the first of the three violent felony offenses, arson first degree, should not have been counted under the habitual offender statute because he was a juvenile at the time of the offense and conviction. The Supreme Court found no merit in the appeal and therefore affirmed. View "Vickers v. Delaware" on Justia Law

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Dana Fuller appealed a Family Court decision denying her petition for expungement of her juvenile record because she had committed three traffic violations as an adult. In this case, the Family Court held that Fuller's violations of Title 21, which governs motor vehicles, were "subsequent . . . adult convictions." But the Family Court has reached different conclusions in other cases as to whether a traffic violation under Title 21 of the Delaware Code is a subsequent adult conviction that precludes expungement of a juvenile record. On appeal, Fuller argued that Title 21 offenses were not "subsequent adult convictions" and the denial of her expungement was therefore erroneous. After review, the Supreme Court held that a "subsequent adult conviction” is a later conviction only for a crime in violation of Title 4, 7, 11, 16, or 23 of the Delaware Code, and does not include a violation of Title 21. Accordingly, we reverse the Family Court's decision. View "Fuller v. Delaware" on Justia Law

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A vice principal of an elementary school asked a Delaware State Trooper to come to the school give a talk about bullying to four or five fifth grade students who were under “in-school suspension.” The next day, the principal was told that there had been a bullying incident involving an autistic student whose money had been taken from him on the school bus by "AB." The principal told AB’s mother about the incident, and asked her permission to have the officer talk to AB. AB’s mother consented. The officer arrived and was told what happened. The principal and officer went to a room where AB was waiting. The principal was called away, leaving the officer alone with AB. The officer got AB to admit that he had the money (one dollar), but AB claimed that another student had taken the money. AB said that he did not know that other student’s name, but that the student was seated with AB on the school bus. Without discussing the matter with the principal, the officer followed up on AB’s claim despite being virtually certain that AB was the perpetrator. The officer obtained the bus seating chart, found AB's seat-mate, brought the two students together and questioned that student in the same manner as AB. According to the other child, the officer used a mean voice and told him 11 or 12 times that he had the authority to arrest the children and place them in jail if they did not tell the truth. AB finally admitted to taking the money from the autistic student. When he got home from school, the seat-mate told his mother what had happened. The child withdrew from school and was home schooled for the rest of that school year. The mother filed suit on her son’s behalf, as well as individually, against the Cape Henlopen School District, the Board of Education of Cape Henlopen School District, the principal, the State, the Department of Safety and Homeland Security, the Division of the Delaware State Police, and the officer, Trooper Pritchett (collectively, Pritchett). Charges against all but the officer were eventually settled or dismissed; Pritchett successfully moved for summary judgment, and this appeal followed. Viewing the record in the light most favorable to the child, the Supreme Court held that there was sufficient evidence to raise issues of material fact on all claims against the officer except a battery claim. Accordingly, the Court affirmed in part and reversed in part. View "Hunt v. Delaware" on Justia Law

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Defendant appealed from a Family Court sentencing order initially entered when he was a juvenile where he robbed a woman with a BB gun. Defendant contended that the Family Court did not have the authority to sentence him, at the outset, to twelve months of adult probation following his juvenile commitment. Because the statute the Family Court relied upon affirmatively provided only two circumstances, not present in this case, where the Family Court could sentence a juvenile to adult probation, the court found that the General Assembly intended to limit the authority of the Family Court to impose adult consequences on the juvenile. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for a correction of the sentence order. View "Brown v. State" on Justia Law