CRIMINAL: Youthful offender and juvenile sentencing: CHIPMAN V. COM. (COA 11/7/2008)

CRIMINAL:  Youthful offender and juvenile sentencing
DATE RENDERED: 11/7/2008

The issue presented is the proper disposition of a juvenile who was charged with Robbery in the First Degree, was transferred to circuit court as a youthful offender, and pled guilty to the lesser offense of Robbery in the Second Degree. Chipman argues that the circuit court did not have subject matter jurisdiction over her when it sentenced her for Robbery in the Second Degree. CA disagreed and affirmed the circuit court’s ruling.

KRS 635.020 is the governing authority in determining whether a person under the age of eighteen is to be tried as a juvenile or a youthful offender. The applicable language of the statute for this appeal is
[a]ny other provision of KRS Chapters 610 to 645 to the contrary notwithstanding, if a child charged with a felony in which a firearm, whether functional or not, was used in the commission of the offense had attained the age of fourteen (14) years at the time of the commission of the alleged offense, he shall be transferred to the Circuit Court for trial as an adult if, following a preliminary hearing, the District Court finds probable cause to believe that the child committed a felony, that a firearm was used in the commission of that felony, and that the child was fourteen (14) years of age or older at the time of the commission of the alleged felony. If convicted in the Circuit Court, he shall be subject to the same penalties as an adult offender, except that until he reaches the age of eighteen (18) years, he shall be confined in a facility or program for juveniles or for youthful offenders, unless the provisions of KRS 635.025 apply or unless he is released pursuant to expiration of sentence or parole, and at age eighteen (18) he shall be returned to the sentencing Circuit Court for proceedings consistent with KRS 640.030(2). KRS 635.020(4). The first step in this analysis is to determine if Chipman should have been transferred to circuit court. As set forth above, if the charge is a felony in which a firearm was used in the commission of the offense, the juvenile will automatically be transferred to circuit court from district court. Because a gun was used in the commission of the crimes and Chipman was convicted by the circuit court, she falls within the purview of KRS 635.020(4). Chipman’s plea to a lesser offense does not exempt her from the sentencing provision of that statute. Therefore, she was properly sentenced as an adult.

Digested by Scott C. Byrd

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