Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Lazlo L. v. Commonwealth

Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Suffolk

May 16, 2019

LAZLO L., a juvenile
v.
COMMONWEALTH. MILES M., a juvenile
v.
COMMONWEALTH.

          Heard: April 4, 2019.

         Delinquent Child. Juvenile Court, Delinquent child, Jurisdiction. Jurisdiction, Delinquent child, Juvenile Court, Juvenile delinquency proceeding. Practice, Criminal, Juvenile delinquency proceeding. Statute, Retroactive application.

         Civil actions commenced in the Supreme Judicial Court for the county of Suffolk on September 4 and 21, 2018.

         The cases were reported by Cypher, J.

          Melissa Allen Celli (Katherine J. Perry-Lorentz, Committee for Public Counsel Services, also present) for Miles M.

          Eva G. Jellison (Stephanie Stolk Ormsby, Committee for Public Counsel Services, also present) for Lazlo L.

          Jane A. Sullivan, Assistant District Attorney, & David L. Sheppard-Brick, Assistant District Attorney, for the Commonwealth.

          Benjamin L. Falkner, for youth advocacy division of the Committee for Public Counsel Services & another, amici curiae, submitted a brief.

          Mary E. Lee, Assistant District Attorney, for District Attorney for the Bristol District, amicus curiae, submitted a brief.

          Present: Gants, C.J., Lenk, Gaziano, Lowy, Budd, Cypher, & Kafker, JJ.

          GANTS, C.J.

         Before July 12, 2018, "a child between seven and [eighteen] who violates any city ordinance or town by-law or who commits any offence against a law of the commonwealth" could be adjudicated a "delinquent child" in the Juvenile Court. See G. L. c. 119, § 52, as amended through St. 2013, c. 84, § 7; G. L. c. 119, § 58. On and after that date, as a result of the enactment of St. 2018, c. 69, entitled "An Act relative to criminal justice reform" (act), a child who commits an offense before the age of twelve or who commits a civil infraction, violates a municipal ordinance or town bylaw, or commits a first offense of a misdemeanor "for which the punishment is a fine, imprisonment in a jail or house of correction for not more than [six] months or both such fine and imprisonment" can no longer be adjudicated a "delinquent child." St. 2018, c. 69, § 72.[1]The cases before us concern two juveniles who allegedly committed offenses before July 12, 2018, but whose cases remained pending before the Juvenile Court on and after that date. There is no dispute that, if their cases had been adjudicated before July 12, each could have been subject to adjudication as a "delinquent child." There is also no dispute that, if they had committed the same offenses on or after July 12, neither juvenile could be adjudicated a "delinquent child" under the amended definition of that term because of age (in the case of Lazlo L.[2]) or because of the nature of the offenses (in the case of Miles M.[3]) .

         The issue presented on appeal is whether the amended definition of "delinquent child" should be applied retroactively to cases pending on July 12, 2018. We conclude that it should, and that a child may not be adjudicated a "delinquent child" on and after this date if he or she does not fit within the definition of that term as amended by the act. We therefore vacate the orders denying the juveniles' motions to dismiss, and remand both matters to the Juvenile Court, where an order of dismissal for each case shall issue.[4]

         Background.

         1. Lazlo.

At the time of the events at issue, Lazlo was eleven years old and living with his mother and stepfather. The complainant, A.M., [5] is the juvenile's stepsister. She lived primarily with her mother, but would occasionally spend the night at her father's (Lazlo's stepfather's) home. A.M. alleges that on one such night in 2017, when she was thirteen, Lazlo entered her bedroom uninvited and performed unwanted sexual acts upon her.

         On April 10, 2018, a complaint issued charging Lazlo with one count of rape and abuse of a child in violation of G. L. c. 265, § 23. On June 13, Lazlo filed a motion to dismiss the complaint prior to arraignment, arguing that the act's amended definition of "delinquent child" should apply retroactively to his case, and that the Juvenile Court lacked jurisdiction to adjudicate him a "delinquent child" because he was eleven years old at the time of the alleged offense. The Commonwealth opposed the motion to dismiss, and the motion judge denied it.[6] Lazlo's case was pending when the amended definition of "delinquent child" became effective, and remains so.

         2. Miles.

         On June 13, 2018, police filed an application for a complaint against Miles for trespassing in violation of G. L. c. 266, § 120, and disorderly conduct in violation of G. L. c. 272, § 53 (b). The following day, a Juvenile Court clerk found that both charges were supported by probable cause. A delinquency complaint issued against Miles on June 15. When he appeared for arraignment on July 9, Miles moved to dismiss the charges against him prior to arraignment, arguing that because he had no prior criminal ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.