Case Caption: Case Number: S. Ct. Crim. No. 2013-0025Date: 01/01/1800Author: Hodge, Rhys S. Citation: Summary:

In an appeal by a minor from an order issued by the Family Division of Superior Court which directed that he be transferred to the Criminal Division to be tried as an adult pursuant to 5 V.I.C. § 2508(b), the People presented sufficient evidence that the defendant was transferable based on his age and the existence of probable cause that he committed the charged offenses. The argument that the Superior Court lacked jurisdiction because the Amended Complaint filed by the People was not “verified” under 5 V.I.C. § 2510(a) is rejected as there is no evidence that the Legislature intended to make the verification requirement jurisdictional. The challenge to the minor's custody has been mooted by his release on an unsecured bond with home confinement and electronic monitoring. The minor was not forced to incriminate himself in violation of the Fifth Amendment when he responded to the police's request for biographical information, such as his age, and when he provided his birthdate in response to the judge's question at the probable cause hearing, because the disclosure of his age is not a statement that could reasonably incriminate him. The Fourth Amendment argument that production of identification or travel documents violates the Fourth Amendment was not briefed and is waived. Under 5 V.I.C. 2508(b) once the People present prima facie evidence at a transfer hearing that a defendant was 14 years or older but less than 18 at the time of the alleged offense, the burden of production then shifts to the minor to disprove the People's evidence. Even if it were error under Federal Rule of Evidence 201 to take judicial notice of the age of the minor based on a court record, any error was harmless in this instance. Here the evidence presented by the People regarding the minor's age was uncontested, and the minor never even argued that he was anything other than 17 at the time of the attack. The evidence supports the trial court's finding that there was probable cause to believe that this minor, along with other minors, committed the charged crimes. There was sufficient evidence for a reasonable person to believe that he committed murder in the first or second degree, assault in the third degree, possession of a dangerous weapon during the commission of those crimes of violence, grand larceny, possession of stolen property, false imprisonment and unauthorized use of a vehicle-either as a principal or as an aider and abettor-and that he is therefore amenable to transfer to the Criminal Division. For these reasons, the March 9, 2013 Transfer Order is affirmed and the case is remanded for further proceedings.

Attachment: Open Document or Opinion