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State in Interest of L.N.

Decided: March 12, 1970.

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, COMPLAINANT-RESPONDENT, IN THE INTEREST OF L.N., JUVENILE APPELLANT


Kilkenny, Labrecque and Leonard. The opinion of the court was delivered by Labrecque, J.A.D.

Labrecque

L.N. appeals from an adjudication of delinquency entered in Union County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court. He received a suspended sentence to the State Home for Boys.

The complaint charged the juvenile defendant, then 15 years of age, with violating N.J.S.A. 2A:4-14 by sniffing Carbona, a cleaning fluid, on April 19, 1968. At the trial it was brought out that when two members of the Union Township Police Department, responding to a call, came upon defendant and a companion, defendant was sitting with his hands cupped between his knees, his head buried in a handkerchief which he was holding. When asked what they were doing, the two boys replied, "nothing." When defendant dropped the handkerchief one of the officers picked it up and found that it gave off an odor which he described as resembling "cleaning fluids or vapors from airplane glue, lacquer thinners, things of that sort." The other officer described the smell as "Carbona or carbon tetrachloride; it's a fire extinguisher fluid." The officers observed that defendant's companion had an open pocket in which there was a bottle. On request he turned the bottle over to them. It bore a label indicating that it was Carbona, a cleaning fluid. Detective Mason of the Union County Prosecutor's office, who had studied drug use, testified as to the toxic qualities of the Carbona and its danger to health when inhaled.

Defendant was represented by counsel at the hearing. He denied that he was sniffing the cleaning fluid, stating that he was just wiping "some kind of a spot" off his handkerchief

with Carbona he had obtained from the bottle which his companion had. On cross-examination he stated that they had gone down to the store to buy it and that although his companion had bought the Carbona, "I was gonna use it to get somethin' off my pants."

The trial judge filed written findings of fact and conclusions of law. At the time the hearing was concluded the juvenile was already serving a sentence at the State Home for Boys. The basis for his presence there does not appear in the record but we note there was another charge pending against him at the time the present hearing was begun, that of idly roaming the streets on April 7, 1968 in violation of the township's curfew ordinance.

Defendant challenges the adjudication on the grounds that his motions to dismiss were erroneously denied and he was denied due process at the trial. He also challenges the constitutionality of sections (i) and (m) of N.J.S.A. 2A:4-14.

Defendant urged in the court below that in order to justify a finding of juvenile delinquency under N.J.S.A. 2A:4-14 it was necessary that he be found guilty of two of the offenses referred to therein. To the extent here relevant the statute provides as follows:

Juvenile delinquency is hereby defined as the commission by a child under 18 years of age.

(1) of any act which when committed by a person of the age of 18 years or over would constitute:

a. A felony, high misdemeanor, misdemeanor, or other offense, or

b. The violation of any penal law or municipal ...


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