Case Caption: In re K.J.F., a MinorCase Number: S. Ct. Crim. No. 2013-0024Date: 07/05/2013Author: Hodge, Rhys S. Citation: Summary:

In a minor's appeal from an order issued by the Family Division of Superior Court directing that he be transferred to the Criminal Division, an Eighth Amendment challenge to imposition of a punishment of life imprisonment without parole for a minor defendant is not reached because it is not yet ripe since this minor has not yet been convicted of first-degree murder-indeed, he may never be convicted of it. Under 14 V.I.C. § 81 and § 83 punishment of the penal laws applies to anyone who commits, in whole or in part, any offense within the Virgin Islands . Because this offense was committed in part in the Virgin Islands, the trial court has jurisdiction over the offense. In this case proof that the minor was age 14 years or older, but less than 18, at the time of the offense was presented by his mother who testified to his birth date, and the challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence regarding the proof of his age is rejected. The trial court's transfer order committing this minor to the custody of the Commissioner of Department of Human Services, to be held at the Youth Rehabilitation Center was error because 5 V.I.C. § 2509(g) applies to mandatory transfers under 2508(b), just as it applies to permissive transfers under 2508(d). Thus the trial court was mandated to place the minors in the custody of the Bureau of Corrections. Nevertheless, the plain language of the statute requires that transferred minors be remanded to the custody of the Bureau of Corrections upon transfer, and not the Department of Human Services' Youth Rehabilitation Center. However, the minor has shown no prejudice from the fact that he was within the custody of the Department of Human Services rather the Bureau of Corrections, and thus the error was harmless. The March 9, 2013 Transfer Order is affirmed.

Attachment: Open Document or Opinion