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Jones v. State

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division IV

February 6, 2019

MEL JONES, JR. APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF ARKANSAS APPELLEE

          APPEAL FROM THE PULASKI COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, FIRST DIVISION [NOS. 60CR-17-3503, 60CR-17-3563, 60CR-17-4233] HONORABLE LEON JOHNSON, JUDGE.

          William R. Simpson, Jr., Public Defender, by: Clint Miller, Deputy Public Defender, for appellant.

          Leslie Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: David L. Eanes, Jr., Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.

          RITA W. GRUBER, Chief Judge.

         This is an appeal from an interlocutory order entered by the Pulaski County Circuit Court denying Mel Deshun Jones, Jr.'s, motions to transfer three cases to the juvenile division of circuit court. All three cases involved charges of theft of property, two of the three cases involved aggravated robbery, and one case involved robbery. At the time of the alleged offenses in each of the three cases, appellant was seventeen years old. He was eighteen years old when he filed the motions to transfer and the court entered its order denying the motions. Appellant argues on appeal that the circuit court's order denying his motions was clearly erroneous because it failed to give greater weight to one of his witnesses regarding his mental, physical, and social history. We find no clear error and affirm.

         Under Arkansas law, a prosecuting attorney has discretion to charge a juvenile sixteen years of age or older in the criminal division of circuit court if the juvenile has engaged in conduct that, if committed by an adult, would be a felony. Ark. Code Ann. § 9-27-318(c)(1) (Repl. 2015). A defendant charged in the criminal division may file a motion to transfer to the juvenile division, and the court in which the criminal charges have been filed must conduct a hearing to determine whether to transfer the case. Ark. Code Ann. § 9-27-318(e). The moving party bears the burden of proving that the case should be transferred to the juvenile division of circuit court. Austin v. State, 2017 Ark.App. 114, at 3, 515 S.W.3d 633, 635. The circuit court shall order the case transferred to another division only upon a finding by clear and convincing evidence that the case should be transferred. Ark. Code Ann. § 9-27-318(h)(2). Clear and convincing evidence is that degree of proof that will produce in the trier of fact a firm conviction as to the allegation sought to be established. Vasquez-Sanchez v. State, 2017 Ark.App. 673, at 8, 536 S.W.3d 628, 633. We will not reverse a circuit court's determination of whether to transfer a case unless the decision is clearly erroneous. Id.

         At a juvenile-transfer hearing, the circuit court is required to consider all the following factors:

(1) The seriousness of the alleged offense and whether the protection of society requires prosecution in the criminal division of circuit court;
(2) Whether the alleged offense was committed in an aggressive, violent, premeditated, or willful manner;
(3) Whether the offense was against a person or property, with greater weight being given to offenses against persons, especially if personal injury resulted;
(4) The culpability of the juvenile, including the level of planning and participation in the alleged offense;
(5) The previous history of the juvenile, including whether the juvenile had been adjudicated a juvenile offender and, if so, whether the offenses were against persons or property, and any other previous history of antisocial behavior or patterns of physical violence;
(6) The sophistication or maturity of the juvenile as determined by consideration of the juvenile's home, environment, emotional attitude, pattern of living, or desire to be treated as an adult;
(7) Whether there are facilities or programs available to the judge of the juvenile division of circuit court that are likely to rehabilitate the juvenile before the expiration of ...

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