Monday, February 02, 2009

Court Affirms Adult Prosecution of Juvenile in RICO Case

US v. Juvenile Male: This is an interlocutory appeal involving a juvenile defendant who was 17 when charged. He was later transferred to adult prosecution. The defendant appealed that transfer, on various grounds. He was initially charged by information with conspiring to participate in a racketeering enterprise, based on his alleged involvement with a gang called MS-13. After being transferred for prosecution as an adult, the defendant appealed to the Fourth Circuit, which remanded because the information failed to allege that the offense was a "crime of violence." On remand, the Government filed an amended information, alleging both that the offense was a crime of violence and also providing more detail in the charges. Two weeks later, the district court again transferred the defendant over for prosecution as an adult.

In this, the second appeal of this case, the defendant essentially made three groups of arguments: (1) that the information was constitutionally and/or otherwise insufficient; (2) that the transfer proceeding violated his Constitutional and statutory procedural rights; and (3) that the district court abused its discretion in transferring him for adult prosecution. After determining which specific issues it had jurisdiction to consider, the Fourth Circuit affirmed the actions of the district court. First, it concluded that the severity of the charges in the information demonstrated the "substantial federal interest" in prosecuting a juvenile, even if the information did not explicitly state such. Second, the court concluded that the proceedings did not violate his Sixth Amendment right to confrontation or his Fifth Amendment rights to silence and due process. Finally, the court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion by transferring the case for adult prosecution.

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