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Criminal Law Supreme Court Opinion

by Booth, George


SC19592 - State v. Nathaniel S. (Sexual assault first degree; sexual assault fourth degree; risk of injury to child; reservation by trial court of certain question for advice of Supreme Court regarding whether public act (P.A. 15-183) that increased age of child whose case was subject to automatic transfer from docket for juvenile matters to regular criminal docket to fifteen years was to be applied retroactively to pending cases; "A person convicted of a class A or class B felony on the regular criminal docket of the Superior Court may be subject to a lengthy mandatory minimum sentence and may suffer various adverse consequences attendant to a felony conviction. By contrast, a child adjudicated a delinquent on the juvenile docket for committing that same offense is subject to at most four years confinement at the Connecticut Juvenile Training School and is spared many of those attendant consequences. Our juvenile justice statutory scheme requires the automatic transfer of certain cases involving children who have been charged with the commission of a class A or class B felony from the docket for juvenile matters to the regular criminal docket. In 2015, the legislature amended the juvenile transfer statute to increase the age of a child whose case was subject to an automatic transfer by one year, to fifteen years old. Public Acts 2015, No. 15-183, § 1 (P.A. 15-183, or act), codified at General Statutes (Supp. 2016) § 46b-127 (a) (1). Prior to this amendment, the court was required to transfer a case from the juvenile docket to the regular criminal docket in which a child, such as the defendant, Nathaniel S., had been charged with the commission of certain felonies and had attained the age of fourteen years prior to the commission of such offenses. See General Statutes (Rev. to 2011) § 46b-127 (a) (1). The question presented by this reserved question of law is whether that amendment applies retroactively, so that the case of a child who has been charged with committing a class A or class B felony prior to the enactment of P.A. 15-183, and whose case already has been transferred to the regular criminal docket, should now have his case transferred back to the juvenile docket. We conclude that the legislature intended that P.A. 15-183 apply retroactively and, accordingly, we answer the reserved question in the affirmative.")