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Berrien County Teen Properly Tried as Adult

Case: In re Bell

Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )


Whether the evidence established that respondent-juvenile’s interest & the public interest were served by the trial court’s family division’s waiver of jurisdiction; In re Fultz; People v. Babcock; People v. Conat; MCL 712A.4(1); People v. Thenghkam; People v. Williams; People v. Whitfield (After Remand); MCL 712A.4(4); Factors (a)-(f)


The court held that under the circumstances, the trial court’s decision to waive the jurisdiction of the family division over the respondent-juvenile, allowing trial to proceed in the adult division of the trial court, fell within a range of principled outcomes and was not an abuse of discretion. He was charged with CSC I, CSC III, child sexually abusive activity, using a computer to commit a crime, and possession of child sexually abusive material. He argued that the evidence did not establish that his interest and the public interest were served by the trial court’s waiver of jurisdiction. The trial court “held a Phase One hearing and found probable cause to believe that respondent had committed the charged offenses.” Because it was not automatically required to waive jurisdiction, it held “a Phase Two hearing as required under MCL 712A.4(4), considered the enumerated factors (a)-(f), and placed its findings on the record.” After carefully reviewing the record, the court held that a preponderance of the evidence supported the trial court’s overall factual findings and they were not clearly erroneous. Further, the trial court “properly considered and balanced the statutory factors set forth in MCL 712A.4(4), giving appropriate weight to particular factors under the circumstances of the case. Had respondent committed the offenses with which he was charged a mere three days later (i.e., after his 17th birthday), he undisputedly would have been tried as an adult offender. There was a strong possibility that, if convicted in the juvenile justice system, respondent would receive services for less than one year.” The record also revealed that his family “was not motivated to assist in his rehabilitation.” Affirmed.

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