Heard: September 7, 2017.
found and returned in the Suffolk County Division of the
Juvenile Court Department on November 19, 2015. A motion to
dismiss was heard by Peter M. Coyne, J.
Supreme Judicial Court on its own initiative transferred the
case from the Appeals Court.
Elianna J. Nuzum, Special Assistant District Attorney, for
Benjamin L. Falkner for the juvenile.
following submitted briefs for amici curiae:
Michael W. Morrissey, District Attorney for the Norfolk
District, & Tracey A. Cusick & Stephanie Martin
Glennon, Assistant District Attorneys, for District Attorney
for the Norfolk District.
Jeffrey J. Pokorak, Kimberly Cariani, & Jaclyn Collier
for Juvenile Law Center of Suffolk University Law School
Virginia F. Coleman for Animal Legal Defense Fund.
Present: Gants, C.J., Lenk, Gaziano, Budd, Cypher, &
juvenile is alleged to have brutally attacked his
friend's dog. The Commonwealth elected to proceed against
the juvenile pursuant to the youthful offender statute, G. L.
c. 119, § 54, on the ground that he caused serious
bodily harm to the dog. The juvenile argues that the youthful
offender indictments are not supported by probable cause
because the phrase "serious bodily harm" in the
statute contemplates harm to human beings, not
animals. We agree and therefore affirm the
dismissal below. We note, however, that the Commonwealth
still may take action against the juvenile by seeking a
complaint for delinquency against him.
following facts are taken from the testimony presented to the
grand jury. In August, 2015, when the juvenile was fourteen
years old, he tortured a friend's dog by shoving a soap
dispenser pump into the dog's vagina, resulting in
serious internal injuries to the dog.
jury returned two youthful offender indictments against the
juvenile, charging him with cruelty to animals and
bestiality. See G. L. c. 272, §§ 34, 77. A Juvenile
Court judge allowed the juvenile's motion to dismiss,
concluding that the phrase "serious bodily harm" in
the youthful offender statute refers only to human victims.
The Commonwealth appealed, and we transferred the case to
this court on our own motion.