STATE v. SAMUEL M., SC 19578

Judicial District of Windham

 

†††† †Criminal; Transfer of Child Charged with Felony to Regular Criminal Docket; Whether State Bears Burden of Establishing Beyond a Reasonable Doubt Childís Eligibility to be Tried as Adult; Whether State Failed to Establish that Defendant was at Least Fourteen Years Old When he Committed Crimes.† The defendant was charged with fourteen counts of sexual assault in the first degree and one count of risk of injury to a child in connection with a series of incidents involving the minor complainant, J.† The state alleged that the incidents occurred ďon or about June, 2009,Ē when the defendant was fourteen years old and J was ten years old.† The case was automatically transferred from the juvenile docket to the regular criminal docket pursuant to General Statutes ß 46b-127 (a) (1) because the defendant was charged with having committed a class A or B felony after he had attained the age of fourteen.† After the jury found the defendant guilty of several of the charges, he filed a motion to dismiss the information and to transfer the case back to the juvenile docket, arguing that the state failed to prove that he was fourteen at the time that the offenses were committed.† The trial court denied the motion, and the defendant appealed, claiming that the state failed to establish that the crimes occurred after he had reached the age of fourteen.† The Appellate Court (159 Conn. App. 242) ordered the defendantís conviction vacated and remanded the case to the trial court with direction to grant the motion to dismiss the information and transfer the case back to the juvenile docket for further proceedings.† The Appellate Court ruled that, because an adult criminal conviction has harsh consequences, the state bore the burden of establishing beyond a reasonable doubt that the offenses occurred on or after the defendantís fourteenth birthday.† Applying a de novo standard of review, the court decided that the state failed to meet its burden of proving that the defendant was at least fourteen years old when he engaged in the conduct underlying the offenses of which he was convicted.† The state appeals, and the Supreme Court will determine whether the Appellate Court correctly decided that the state bore the burden of establishing the defendantís eligibility to be tried and sentenced as an adult and, if so, whether it correctly determined that the state must meet its burden by proof beyond a reasonable doubt.† The Supreme Court will also decide whether the Appellate Court applied the correct standard of review to the trial courtís decision denying the defendantís motion to dismiss the information and to transfer the case to the juvenile docket and, if so, whether it correctly determined that the state failed to establish, by any burden of proof, that the defendant was at least fourteen years old at the time that he committed the crimes.