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State in Interest of F.W.

September 25, 1974

STATE OF NEW JERSEY IN THE INTEREST OF F.W.


Gilmore, J.J. & D.r.

Gilmore

[130 NJSuper Page 513] Because of the composition of the form of complaint utilized in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Courts, this matter arises sua sponte. One complaint charges that F.W. did feloniously receive and have in his possession

the goods of another, which goods and chattels were of the value of $1,000. A second complaint charges that F.W. did attempt to feloniously steal the goods of a third person, which goods were of the value of $5,300.

Both complaints allege that these acts occurred on July 27, 1974 at 5:03 A.M. Both complaints aver that "these facts, if established would constitute a violation of [naming the respective criminal statutes] when committed by a person 18 years of age or over."

At this point there is nothing to provoke the reader's attention. But complaints in this court are sui generis. Apart from the body of the complaint itself, there is contained a wealth of information on the juvenile. We read of his school, grade, employer, age, height, etc. On the complaints in question there is contained the date of birth, July 28, 1956. F.W. asserted this to be so.

The question is as obvious as Gulliver. How old was F.W. on July 27, 1974? The new Juvenile Act, L. 1973, c. 306, proclaims that a juvenile "means any person who is under the age of 18." Was F.W. now an adult by virtue of N.J.S.A. 9:17B-1 to 3?

An exhaustive and exhausting search of reported cases in our State discloses legalistic famine on the subject. The extent of this scrivener's efforts reposes in Mandell v. Passaic National Bank & Trust Co., 18 N.J. Misc. 455 (Cir. Ct. 1940), which asserts that

The plaintiff legally reaches her majority on December 28th, 1939, the day before her twenty-first birthday, for the law takes no cognizance of the part of a day. A day begun is a day done. [at 457]

There is no citation of authority, no further comment, and no mention in the syllabus.

Perhaps the judge felt the statement was of hornbook age since the rule apparently existed in the year 1677. Note the case of Nichols v. Ramsel, 2 Mod. 280, 86 Eng. Repr. 1072, wherein we find:

And the evidence was, that he was born the first day of January in the afternoon of that day, and died in the morning on the last day of December: and it was held by all the judges that he was of ...


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