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In the Interest of M.H.P., A Child State of North Dakota v. M.H.P.

April 10, 2013

IN THE INTEREST OF M.H.P., A CHILD STATE OF NORTH DAKOTA,
PETITIONER AND APPELLANT
v.
M.H.P., CHILD, M.L.P., MOTHER, M.P., FATHER, RESPONDENTS M.H.P., CHILD, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Juvenile Court of Burleigh County, South Central Judicial District, the Honorable Bruce A. Romanick, Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Crothers, Justice.

N.D. Supreme CourtInterest of M.H.P., 2013 ND 61

This opinion is subject to petition for rehearing. [Go to Documents]

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DISMISSED IN PART AND AFFIRMED IN PART.

Opinion of the Court by Crothers, Justice.

[¶1] The State of North Dakota appeals a juvenile court order adopting a judicial referee's findings of fact and order dismissing the State's petition alleging M.H.P. was a delinquent child. We dismiss in part and affirm in part.

I

[¶2] On August 3, 2011, the State filed a petition alleging M.H.P. was a delinquent child who committed gross sexual imposition in violation of N.D.C.C. § 12.1-20-03(1)(d), a class A felony if committed by an adult. The State alleged M.H.P., a fifteen-year-old male, engaged in sexual contact with E.B., born in 2002, by intentionally touching E.B.'s vaginal area through her clothing. The judicial referee found M.H.P. engaged in sexual contact with E.B., a child under the age of fifteen, and scheduled a dispositional hearing to determine whether M.H.P. needed treatment or rehabilitation as a delinquent child. A juvenile court order was entered on April 18, 2012, adopting the judicial referee's findings and order.

[¶3] The judicial referee conducted the dispositional hearing on May 31, 2012 and found M.H.P. was not in need of treatment or rehabilitation as a delinquent child. The judicial referee explained he previously found beyond a reasonable doubt that M.H.P. committed the delinquent act of gross sexual imposition and stated, "Although this fact alone would be sufficient to sustain a finding of a need for treatment and rehabilitation, there was a substantial amount of evidence to the contrary." Based on these findings, the judicial referee dismissed the petition. The juvenile court adopted the judicial referee's findings and order, dismissed the proceeding and concluded the issue of M.H.P. registering as a sexual offender did not need to be addressed.

II

[¶4] The State appealed to this Court under N.D.C.C. § 27-20-56(1), providing:

"An aggrieved party, including the state or a subdivision of the state, may appeal from a final order, judgment, or decree of the juvenile court to the supreme court by filing written notice of appeal within thirty days after entry of the order, judgment, or decree, or within any further time the supreme court grants, after entry of the order, judgment, or decree. The appeal must be heard by the supreme court upon the files, records, and minutes or transcript of the evidence of the juvenile court, giving appreciable weight to the findings of the juvenile court."

[¶5] M.H.P. argues the State's appeal is barred by the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment and should be dismissed. "Double jeopardy principles apply to juvenile court proceedings involving adjudication of delinquent acts." Interest of B.F., 2009 ND 53, ¶ 6, 764 N.W.2d 170. "The State may not appeal from an acquittal in a criminal case." Id. "When an appellate or trial court 'concludes that evidence is legally insufficient to support a guilty verdict, it concludes that the prosecution has failed to produce sufficient evidence to prove its ...


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