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R.T. v. Commonwealth

Court of Appeals of Kentucky

November 2, 2018

R.T., A CHILD APPELLANT
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF KENTUCKY APPELLEE

          ON DISCRETIONARY REVIEW FROM JEFFERSON CIRCUIT COURT HONORABLE BARRY WILLETT, JUDGE ACTION NO. 16-XX-000011

          BRIEFS FOR APPELLANT: Elizabeth B. McMahon Louisville, Kentucky

          BRIEF FOR APPELLEE: Michael J. O'Connell Louisville, Kentucky

          BEFORE: CLAYTON, CHIEF JUDGE; COMBS AND JONES, JUDGES.

          OPINION AFFIRMING

          COMBS, JUDGE.

         The issue before us involves interpretation of KRS[1] 635.060(4)(a)2 of the Juvenile Code which allows the juvenile court the option of committing a child "adjudicated for an offense involving a deadly weapon" to the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ). Appellant, R.T., a child, contends that trial court erred in construing the language, "involving a deadly weapon," to include possession of a handgun by a minor. Finding no error, we affirm.

         KRS 635.060 is entitled, "Options of court at dispositional hearing[.]" KRS 635.060 [2] provides, in pertinent part, as follows:

If in its decree the juvenile court finds that the child comes within the purview of this chapter, the court, at the dispositional hearing, may impose any combination of the following, except that the court shall, if a validated risk and needs assessment tool is available, consider the validated risk and needs assessment submitted to the court and parties by the Department of Juvenile Justice or other agency before imposing any disposition: . . .
(4)(a) Order the child to be committed or recommitted to the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice, grant guardianship to a child-caring facility or a child-placing agency authorized to care for the child, or place the child under the custody and supervision of a suitable person if: . . .
2. The child was adjudicated for an offense involving a deadly weapon, an offense in which the child has been declared a juvenile sexual offender under KRS 635.510, or an offense that would be a felony offense if committed by an adult, other than a Class D felony.

(Emphases added).

         The underlying facts are not in dispute. The Circuit Court's order entered April 28, 2017, provides a concise summary:

A juvenile petition was filed in R.T.'s interest on March 18, 2015 . . . after R.T. was involved in an altercation with a police officer at or near her mother's home and eventually arrested. According to the petition, R.T. ran from the officer when he initially arrived at the home. Once overtaken, R.T. allegedly balled her fists assumed a bladed stance, and then began threatening to fight and kill the officer, and resisted his attempts to arrest her. The officer finally took R.T. to the ground, placed her under arrest, and after searching her clothing, found a loaded pistol tucked beneath her waistband and a plastic bag containing marijuana . . . . R.T. was charged with carrying a concealed deadly weapon, possession of a handgun by a minor, possession of marijuana, resisting arrest, third-degree terroristic threatening, third-degree criminal mischief and menacing.
On March 19, 2015, R.T. pled guilty to the misdemeanor offenses of possession of a handgun by a minor, resisting arrest, and third-degree criminal mischief. R.T. was fifteen years old at the time. After taking R.T.'s plea, the district court dismissed the remaining charges against her as merged, and continued the case for a dispositional hearing on April 2, 2015. . . . The parties then agreed to postpone the dispositional hearing until a later date to monitor R.T.'s progress while she was in treatment at Maryhurst [a residential treatment program in Jefferson County]. After monitoring R.T.'s progress for a few months and receiving reports of her alleged non-compliance with her treatment program, the district court set a final dispositional hearing ...

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