PRESS RELEASE, 3/19/2015

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph T. Deters announces appeal of cases from Hamilton County Juvenile Court

Today, Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph T. Deters announced that his office filed appeals to the First District Court of Appeals in four cases recently decided by Hamilton County Juvenile Court Judge John Williams.

In these four cases the fact patterns are similar. In three of the four cases, the court committed the juveniles to the Department of Youth Services (“DYS”/the equivalent of prison for juveniles) on serious felony offenses but suspended the commitment to give the juveniles the opportunity to take advantage of a variety of treatment and counseling options available at non-secure facilities.  The suspended commitment to DYS stood over the juvenile in the event that the juvenile did not take advantage of the opportunities at the non-secure facility and ultimately forced the court to impose the commitment to DYS.  In the other case, while the facts are slightly different, the same legal issue applies.

The state’s appeals in the four separate cases revolve around whether the court erroneously gave credit against a commitment to DYS for time spent in these non-secure placements prior to the juveniles’ commitment to DYS.  The state’s position is that the law does not allow time spent in a non-secure placement prior to a commitment to DYS to be subtracted from the time the juvenile is required to serve at DYS.

In three of the four cases, the juveniles either ran from the non-secure placement or violated other rules that resulted in their ultimate commitment to DYS.  In one of the cases, the juvenile violated the aftercare program by running away from home and violating his Electronic Monitoring rules.  In another case, the juvenile ran from his non-secure placement and the court gave him two more opportunities at non-secure placements which were both terminated because the juvenile fought with or assaulted other residents at these facilities.  In the third case, the juvenile was terminated from his non-secure placement because he assaulted one of the staff.  In the fourth case, the juvenile did not violate any rules of the non-secure placement but the state successfully argued on an earlier appeal that the juvenile should never have been at the non-secure placement given that his adjudication on aggravated robbery charges with gun specifications was a mandatory commitment to DYS.   The First District Court of Appeals agreed with the state and the juvenile was then sent to DYS. 

Prosecutor Deters commented, “This is an important legal issue and an important community safety issue.  These cases involve serious felony offenses such as aggravated robbery, burglary and firearm offenses.   If the court is allowed to continue to erroneously give juveniles credit for placement at non-secure facilities before their commitment to DYS, the power of the DYS commitment is greatly diminished.  Often the court will, as they should, give kids a chance at a non-secure facility to take advantage of a variety of treatment programs and counseling options to get their life back on track before using the ultimate juvenile punishment of a commitment to DYS.  The law does not allow the court to subtract the time spent at these non-secure facilities from a future commitment to DYS and this is why we are appealing to the First District Court of Appeals.”