Appeal from the District Court of Grand Forks County, Northeast Central Judicial District, the Honorable Laurie A. Fontaine, Judge.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Maring, Justice.
N.D. Supreme Court Interest of R.A., 2011 ND 119
This opinion is subject to petition for rehearing. [Go to Documents] [Download as WordPerfect]
Opinion of the Court by Maring, Justice.
[¶1] R.A. appeals from a juvenile court order transferring jurisdiction to district court under N.D.C.C. § 27-20-34(1)(b) and a district court order affirming the transfer. We conclude the juvenile court did not err in finding there was probable cause R.A. committed the offense of gross sexual imposition by threat, the juvenile court did not misinterpret or misapply the transfer statute, and R.A.'s confrontation rights were not violated. We affirm.
[¶2] In March 2010, a delinquency petition and notice of intent to transfer to district court was filed, alleging R.A. committed the offenses of gross sexual imposition in violation of N.D.C.C. § 12.1-20-03(1)(a) and (3)(a), terrorizing in violation of N.D.C.C. §12.1-17-04, and harassment in violation of N.D.C.C. § 12.1-17-07(1)(a). The State alleged R.A. engaged in a sexual act with another juvenile, A.H., by compelling A.H. to submit by threat of imminent death or serious bodily injury. The State alleged R.A. sent A.H. text messages and written messages through the Internet containing threats and stating A.H. must perform sexual acts with R.A. or certain individuals would be physically harmed or killed. After a hearing on the transfer request, the judicial referee found there was probable cause to believe R.A. committed the offense of gross sexual imposition by force or by threat of imminent death, serious bodily injury, or kidnapping, and ordered the case be transferred to district court under N.D.C.C. § 27-20-34(1)(b).
[¶3] R.A. requested a district court judge review the judicial referee's findings and order, arguing the evidence did not support a finding of probable cause, the judicial referee misinterpreted or misapplied the transfer statute because the statute requires the threats be to the victim and not another person, and his confrontation rights were violated. The district court affirmed and adopted the judicial referee's findings and order.
[¶4] This Court's standard of review of a juvenile court's order is well established:
Under N.D.R.Civ.P. 52(a), this Court reviews a juvenile court's factual findings under a clearly erroneous standard of review, with due regard given to the opportunity of the juvenile court to judge the credibility of the witnesses. A finding of fact is clearly erroneous if there is no evidence to support it, if the reviewing court is left with a definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been made, or if the finding was induced by an erroneous view of the law. This Court reviews questions of law de novo. Interest of A.R., 2010 ND 84, ¶ 5, 781 N.W.2d 644.
[¶5] The juvenile court found that probable cause exists to believe R.A. committed the offense of gross sexual imposition of a victim by force or by threat of imminent death, serious bodily injury, or kidnapping, and ordered the case transferred to district court under N.D.C.C. § 27-20-34. Section 27-20-34, N.D.C.C., governs the transfer of a case from a juvenile court to district court and provides:
1. After a petition has been filed alleging delinquency based on conduct which is designated a crime or public offense under the laws, including local ordinances or resolutions of this state, the court before hearing the petition on its merits shall transfer the offense for prosecution to the appropriate court having jurisdiction of the offense if: . . . . b. The child was fourteen years of age or more at the time of the alleged conduct and the court determines that there is probable cause to believe the child committed the alleged delinquent act and the delinquent act involves the offense of . . . gross sexual imposition or the attempted gross sexual imposition of a victim by force or by threat of imminent death, serious bodily injury, or kidnapping . . . . A person is guilty of gross sexual imposition if the person engages in a sexual act with another or causes another to engage in a sexual act by compelling the victim to submit by force or by threat of imminent death, serious bodily injury, or kidnapping, to be inflicted on any human being. N.D.C.C. § 12.1-20-03(1)(a). A sexual act is:
Sexual contact between human beings consisting of contact between the penis and the vulva, the penis and the anus, the mouth and the penis, the mouth and the vulva, or any other portion of the human body and the penis, anus, or vulva; or the use of an object which comes in contact with the victim's anus, vulva, or penis. For the purposes of this subsection, sexual contact between the penis and the vulva, the penis and the anus, any other portion of the human body and the anus or vulva, or ...