Juvenile Crime Case Summaries

Bomb Threats – Bomb Scare Communicating

The 13-year-old juvenile and another male classmate were walking together in a crowded school hallway when the classmate asked him if he remembered a joke that another classmate had allegedly made several weeks earlier about an imaginary bomb being in his shoe. The juvenile client excitedly finished the classmate's sentence by loudly exclaiming, "yeah, there's a bomb in my shoe!" The comment was overheard above all the other hallway noise by a guidance counselor and the boys were immediately detained as police were notified. The school was immediately evacuated and the bomb squad, bomb sniffing dogs, and the fire department investigated the scare. Once the call was cleared, the parents arrived at the school and consented to police interviews in their presence. The third boy was interviewed as well and outright denied ever having made the alleged joke several weeks earlier. The school immediately suspended the boys and the criminal matter was immediately marked for a clerk-magistrate's show-cause hearing.

Understanding that such post-Columbine school cases are highly scrutinized as they attract significant local and media coverage, Mr. Arnel quickly became proactive and thoroughly prepared to "pre-negotiate" to broker a deal with the police prosecutor in advance of the hearing so as to effectively limit the potentially harmful discretion of the clerk-magistrate. He first interviewed his client and parents and consulted with the classmate's legal counsel. Since juvenile police reports are highly confidential and never released to any juvenile defendant's parent or attorney unless an actual criminal complaint issues, Mr. Arnel did not wait until the hearing date to review the same but instead himself went to the juvenile court to review the impounded police report. He immediately noted that the stories of the two boys were identical and that they were immediately detained and interviewed separate from each other, meaning that they undisputedly had no time to conspire and corroborate their individual stories. Mr. Arnel next contacted the police lieutenant and called his attention to this fact in order to accredit his client by discrediting the third boy's denial. After careful consideration, the prosecutor agreed to recommend that the matter remain at the clerk's level so that a criminal complaint would not issue, provided that $321 restitution was paid to cover the town's emergency response expenses and that the juvenile client avoid any other criminal charges for the remaining six months of his eight grade year.

Drug Charges – Possession – Intent to Distribute

Police were dispatched for a report of a motor vehicle accident. The juvenile defendant, a 16-year-old Russian male and not especially a police favorite, was a passenger in the suspect car with an 18-year-old adult male operator. Police smelled a strong odor of burnt marijuana emanating from inside the suspect car. The juvenile's eyes were allegedly "red and very glassy." Both occupants of the suspect vehicle denied that they had been drinking or smoking marijuana. The police shortly thereafter located a box on the grass area adjacent to both the sidewalk and suspect vehicle that contained a glassine bag with marijuana. Both suspects were given their Miranda warnings. According to the juvenile, the adult suspect then lied to the police and told them that the juvenile had discarded the marijuana from the car and that they had smoked two marijuana cigarettes prior to the accident. In a written statement that the adult suspect would later provide to the police, he stated in part that the "friend I was with [name omitted] had weed on him and threw it out in the bushes so he wouldn't get caught when the police arrived." The juvenile was arrested and charged with both marijuana possession and intent to distribute marijuana. Mr. Arnel investigated and scrutinized the accident, the suspects, the allegations and the circumstances. He then filed a motion to dismiss the complaint that was based upon his premise that the juvenile lacked the requisite "dominion and control" over the drugs and, therefore, that the evidence was insufficient to prosecute him as a matter of law. This strategy proved successful when, without evidentiary hearing or oral argument, the prosecution eventually agreed to dismiss the substantially more serious distribution charge in exchange for the juvenile's tender of plea on the lesser included offense of straight possession. It was agreed that the possession charge was to be continued without a finding for a mere 6 months provided that during this time the juvenile abstain from drugs and alcohol, submit to random drug screening, and complete 16 hours of community service. The possession case was then dismissed only 6 months later and the boy's juvenile record of delinquent adjudications remained completely unblemished.

Class D Marijuana Possession – Disorderly Conduct – Underage Alcohol

In two separate instances that resulted in two separate juvenile criminal complaints, Mr. Arnel filed substantive dispositive motions on behalf of the same male juvenile client. In the first case, charges of both underage alcohol and marijuana possession were dismissed without a hearing once Mr. Arnel convinced the prosecution of the merits of the thoroughly prepared motion and further tendered a plea in the second case. The client sorely lacked a viable defense in the second case so the second motion was only strategically brought to effectively leverage an otherwise inescapably weak position. This tactic proved successful after Mr. Arnel agreed to withdraw the second motion and forego the time-consuming evidentiary hearing if the prosecution rewarded his client with a continuance without a finding for a mere 6 months on both the remaining underage alcohol possession and disorderly conduct charges. The deal was thus sealed and the client successfully completed his 6-month probation without incident. The second case was then dismissed and the end result was that the client had no juvenile record of being adjudicated delinquent on either case.

Class D Marijuana Possession – Clerk-Magistrate's Hearing

Police responded to a call that a high school campus aide observed two students smoking marijuana in the woods across from the school. Police apprehended the client, a 16-year-old juvenile male, as he exited the woods. The juvenile confessed that they were "only smoking a flavored blunt" and police seized a small amount of marijuana, a glass pipe and other drug paraphernalia from his person. An application for criminal complaint was taken out against the juvenile for possession of marijuana.

Both the clerk-magistrate and the town police prosecutor clearly remembered the boy from another clerk's hearing only a year prior. In that hearing, which was not drug related, they extended considerable leniency to the boy but sternly warned him that further misbehavior would not be tolerated. The juvenile, however, had since been diagnosed with clinical depression and suicidal ideation and was hospitalized for a month shortly after the new incident. Mr. Arnel reviewed the psychiatric records and noted that the boy told the hospital psychiatrist that he wanted to get caught smoking marijuana because he was not admitted into an honors history class. In a strategic maneuver, Mr. Arnel immediately stipulated that there was probable cause to issue a formal complaint but, after artfully depicting the boy's fragile psychiatric condition and suggesting several alternative treatment options, successfully convinced both the clerk magistrate and the police prosecutor to not issue formal criminal process and to instead continue the matter without a finding until his client's seventeenth birthday provided he continue with his present psychiatric counseling, speak with a school drug counselor, and avoid further criminal activity.

Minor Possession of Alcohol – Pretrial Probation – Diversion Program

The 16-year-old female juvenile was not supposed to be home but climbed through a rear window to access her mother's house. A party subsequently ensued in the absence of her mother who was in California. Police responded to a reported neighborhood disturbance and saw a large group of youths running from the house, some loudly yelling, "Run, the cops are here!" Police found large quantities of open beer cans throughout the entire house and in the back yard. The client contradicted herself and was purposely vague in explaining the details of the party and alcohol. She was released to the custody of her grandmother and later summonsed to be arraigned at the juvenile court for one count of minor possession of alcohol. Mr. Arnel sought to prevent any criminal entry upon his young client's previously unblemished record and wisely negotiated with the juvenile prosecutor before the arraignment. Mr. Arnel secured his client's placement in a diversion program with pretrial probation for a mere 4 months and only 10 hours of community service. She successfully and easily completed the program and was never arraigned on the criminal charge.

Minor Transport of Alcohol – Clerk Magistrate's Show-Cause Hearing

Police responded to a complaint of youths congregating and drinking in a small shopping plaza parking lot. Most of the youths left the area in vehicles as the police arrived. Four youths, two males and two females, exited a small SUV and entered into a pizza shop. The rear SUV door was observed left open and police circled back to secure the vehicle. In "plain view" were open containers of beer in the vehicle. The 16-year-old juvenile male driver was questioned and stated that his friends were drinking the beer. The police sought an application for complaint for a minor transporting alcohol.

Mr. Arnel strategically stipulated that there was probable cause to issue a criminal complaint against his young client. However, he convinced both the clerk magistrate and the town police prosecutor to refrain from issuing a formal complaint and instead satisfactorily resolved the matter by negotiating that his client be placed on a 6-month probationary period and, provided that the boy simply avoid any new criminal charges, that the paperwork be destroyed one year later in accordance with the record keeping laws. The complaint never issued and the juvenile's record remained unblemished.

Shoplifting

Store security detained a black male juvenile after he had placed a small item into his coat pocket and was supposedly attempting to exit the store. The juvenile claimed that he had merely placed the item into his coat pocket so that he could free his hands to inspect other merchandise and had no intention of departing the store without first paying. He was subsequently charged with shoplifting by asportation, and not with shoplifting by concealment. Mr. Arnel clearly understood the difference between the two forms of shoplifting and was confident that he could successfully exploit that the prosecution could not prove all of the elements required to sustain a conviction with regard to the particular charge. He carefully weighed the undisputed facts as compared to the mere allegations, identified and contemplated the credibility of the defense witnesses, considered the boy's lack of a prior criminal history, and knew the propensities of the trial judge. Mr. Arnel therefore wisely advised his client's parents to waive the boy's right to a jury trial and instead try the case as a bench trial, where the judge would be the sole fact finder to determine delinquency or acquittal. The defendant was found not guilty after trial.

Breaking and Entering – Vandalizism – Malicious Destruction – Co-Defendants

Police responded to a report of suspicious activity at an unoccupied house and observed several unidentified youths flee into the woods. Two 16-year-old male juveniles were however found inside the house. The owners of the home had moved out a few months prior and the dwelling was supposed to be vacant. Police discovered that the front door was unlocked and observed food, trash, cigarette butts, cigarette burnt and soiled carpets, paper clogged toilets and video games hooked up to a television. They also found beds with sheets and numerous sleeping bags that suggested youths were sleeping in the house. Both boys were arrested and charged with breaking and entering and vandalizing a building over $250 and then released to the custody of their respective mothers.

After determining that no potential conflict of interest existed, Mr. undertook the dual representation of both boys. He drafted an Accord and Satisfaction with regard to any restitution to be made to the homeowner, who then waived his claim to restitution when he failed to cooperate with the police investigation. Mr. Arnel convinced the prosecution to reduce the breaking and entering charge to misdemeanor trespass and to reduce the vandalism felony charge to misdemeanor vandalism less than $250. He then skillfully secured a continuance without a finding for a mere 6 months provided that the juveniles abstain from drugs and alcohol, submit to random urine screens and complete 20 hours of community service. Both boys successfully completed these minor conditions and their respective cases were dismissed. The police investigation continued and several other juveniles were apprehended and prosecuted.

Breaking and Entering

Two male juveniles entered the teenage male victim's house uninvited. The victim was acquainted with the two juvenile suspects, but not friends. The victim and his male friend were playing video games in the family room when the two suspects entered into the house and asked them to play football. They declined and the defendant's acquaintance threatened to shoot them if they didn't change their minds. When they continued to decline, the perpetrator picked up a nearby BB gun and shot the teen victim in the right foot, breaking the skin. The two suspects fled the house before the police arrived. The shooter had never been in the house before but the defendant had been in the past. There was no sign of forced entry. The prosecution eventually agreed with Mr. Arnel that his client had neither a premeditated nor even a knowingly intentional part in the impulsive and unpredictable shooting, opted to instead prosecuted the other teen suspect, and dismissed the case against the client.

Assault and Battery on Police Officer – Resist Arrest – Disorderly Conduct

The police were dispatched to a house for a report of a disturbance. A female resident told them that two male and two juvenile females were using obscene language toward her and a description of the juveniles was given. The police already knew one of the male juveniles who had been adjudicated delinquent several prior times and who also had a prior Department of Youth Services ("DYS") commitment. Mr. Arnel's client, however, was both an honors student and a multi-sport athlete who had no prior criminal history or police involvement. Another police officer soon thereafter located the four juveniles. The other male juvenile began to run before being stopped by the officer and then forced to the ground. A violent struggle ensued with this juvenile punching at he officer and then being pepper sprayed. Mr. Arnel's client observed the juvenile screaming and pleading for help as the officer appeared to be severely choking him by strategically placing a knee across his throat as he lay prone and defenseless on the street. Initially hesitant but growing increasingly fearful for his friend's safety, the defendant attempted to pull the overly aggressive officer off of his friend by putting his right arm around the officer's neck and his left arm around his stomach. All three then began rolling around in the street until a nearby male resident pulled the defendant away from the officer. The mothers of both boys soon arrived on the scene and the juveniles were arrested. Considering the unsavory reputation of the co-defendant, Mr. Arnel strategically moved to sever the cases to favorably distinguish his client from the co-defendant. Mr. Arnel then separately conferred with each the victim police officer and the prosecutor to convince them that his client was really a well-intended kid who unknowingly associated with a bad kid and that his client's panicked and regretful actions were more purely reactionary than intentional. This tactic succeeded for, as the other juvenile was again committed to DYS custody, the client's case was continued without a finding for 6 months provided he comply with school conditions, perform 25 hours of community service and write a letter of apology to the police officer. The client successfully completed his probation, the case was dismissed, and he graduated high school with honors and enrolled in a prestigious college.

Assault and Battery – Dangerous Weapon – Clerk's Show-Cause Hearing

A fight broke out in a parking lot between members of two local high school football teams. Police arrived to observe about 60 youths scatter in all directions. One male youth was observed with visible injuries to his nose and face but refused to identify the perpetrator until the following day when his parents accompanied him to the police station. As a result of a subsequent investigation, an application for complaint was taken against Mr. Arnel's 15-year old juvenile client alleging that he had committed an assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. The alleged victim mistakenly claimed that the client had either brass knuckles or a large ring.

Mr. Arnel interviewed various witnesses to ascertain the sequence of events and devise legal strategy. He next advised his client's parents to seek an application for complaint (a "cross-complaint") on behalf of their minor son as against the complaining juvenile. It was therein alleged that the other youth first punched their son in the head and that their son acted in self-defense only after repelling this attack and stepping away.

All parties and their parents were required to attend a single clerk-magistrate's show-cause hearing to determine if criminal process would issue against either or both boys. Mr. Arnel's strategic leveraging of the cross-complaint paid handsome dividends when the other youth and his parents assented to the criminal complaint not being issued against his client in exchange for not acting upon the cross-complaint. It was agreed that the matter would be continued for one year at the clerk's level provided that his client's parents agreed to pay any uninsured medical bills incurred by the other youth. The client successfully completed the one year term without further incident and the criminal complaint was never issued.

Assault and Battery – Dangerous Weapon – Ballpoint Pen

The facts leading up to the altercation were unclear though it was undisputed that a 13-year-old male juvenile retaliated for being scratched in the forearm with a pen earlier in the day when he stabbed another male classmate in the arm with a pen. There were three minor but visible puncture wounds on the other student's arm. Police also noted and photographed a couple of minor scratches and ink marks on the client's right forearm from the unrelated earlier incident. Two other classmates told police that they witnessed the two combatants mutually marking each other with pens in the past and that it was in fun and not maliciously done to cause injury. In this instance it appeared that the two boys were angry with each other and the defendant overreacted. Mr. Arnel successfully diffused the situation to otherwise convince the prosecution to agree to only a 4 month pretrial probationary period and a letter of apology. This resulted in the case being removed from the court docket and shortly thereafter dismissed.

Possession of Dangerous Weapon – Switchblade Knife – Mental Health Issues

The 16-year-old juvenile defendant had a history of clinical depression and was only the day before discharged from a hospital after spending seven days in its psychiatric unit. His mother took him to see his psychiatrist when the boy kicked open the car door and ran into the woods. The mother called the police as she and the doctor searched the area. Police received a call from another female party who stated that she observed a young boy lighting leaves on fire in the woods. Police eventually found the juvenile walking along the train tracks. They discovered a switchblade knife, 5" closed and 10" open, and a partially burned map on the boy when they pat frisked him for their safety and charged him with possession of a dangerous weapon. He stated that he left the matches in the woods. Later this same day the juvenile was admitted to another hospital's psychiatric unit for an additional twenty-three days.

The mother claimed that her father had passed away only a year earlier and that she had unwisely kept many of his collectible weapons in the house, including samurai swords, machetes and knifes. The boy was very attached to his grandfather and had apparently taken the knife as a memento. He never intended to use it offensively and did not realize that it was considered an illegal weapon. The mother no longer stored the weapons in the house.

The boy, however, had a small marijuana possession case pending in another court and had also been involved a year earlier in an incident that alleged an attempted, though mistaken, poisoning of a female youth that was never issued criminal process. Notwithstanding, Mr. Arnel relentlessly persevered on his young client's behalf by procuring and providing his client's mental health records to the prosecution in order to submit an agreed upon recommendation to the judge so that the matter would be continued without a finding for a short 6-month period provided the juvenile refrain from possessing weapons and incendiary devices, continue with his individual counseling and take all prescribed medications. The case was later dismissed.

Unlicensed Operation – Uninsured Motor Vehicle – Trespass

Police were dispatched for a call that four youths were driving two four-wheel motor bikes ("quads") in the fields. Despite being ordered not to move, the youths fled from the police at a high rate of speed and almost tipped over several times. One of the female passengers was located shortly thereafter at her home and provided police with the otherwise already known identity of the other three individuals, each of whom would confess that they fled because they didn't want to get caught. Mr. Arnel's 15-year-old client was criminally charged with operating an uninsured motor vehicle, operating a motor vehicle without a license and trespassing. He was additionally cited with the civil motor vehicle infraction of operating an unregistered motor vehicle.

The client had no prior juvenile record or criminal involvement. Mr. Arnel correctly noted that a quad was not an insurable vehicle and successfully insisted that, instead of being dismissed, the uninsured motor vehicle charge be recorded as a "not delinquent" finding. By negotiating a favorable disposition with regard to only a single count of misdemeanor trespass, Mr. Arnel procured a dismissal on the other remaining count of unlicensed operation and also a finding of not responsible on the civil infraction, which saved his client a civil fine, a future insurance surcharge, and otherwise preserved his driving record. The trespass charge was continued without a finding for a mere 6 months provided the juvenile stay away from the field area, refrain from driving any unregistered quad, obey school conditions and complete 15 hours of community service. The client successfully completed these minor conditions and the case was dismissed.

Juvenile – Probation Surrender

The 16-year-old juvenile defendant was on probation for his admissions involving three criminal counts, those specifically being assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, possession of marijuana, and possession of a firearm without a permit. Each of these charges had been previously continued without a finding for 1 year. The probation was supervised and specific conditions included a written letter of apology to the victim, drug and alcohol abstinence, random urine screens, and the completion of 20 hours of community service.

The juvenile failed to comply with certain conditions and received a notice to report for a probation surrender hearing. The probation department sought to have the court revoke the continuance without a finding and instead impose a delinquent finding on each of the three counts. Mr. Arnel wisely stipulated that the juvenile had technically violated certain specific conditions of his probation but disagreed with the probation department's recommendation for disposition. During oral argument, Mr. Arnel skillfully illustrated the drastic consequences of revoking the previous finding and successfully convinced the judge that the violation was both a misunderstanding and an aberration and that he, as newly retained legal counsel, had now provided his young and impressionable client with the clear and proper guidance necessary to successfully complete his probation. Despite his adversary's adamant opposition, the judge reluctantly agreed with Mr. Arnel and instead merely reprobated the juvenile to his original term and conditions but with an additional 20 hours of community service. The juvenile thereafter successfully completed his probation without further incident and all three counts were dismissed and his juvenile record preserved.