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State in Interest of R.L.P

Decided: May 2, 1978.

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, IN THE INTEREST OF R.L.P., JUVENILE-APPELLANT


On appeal from the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, Essex County.

Halpern, Larner and King. The opinion of the court was delivered by King, J.A.D.

King

This case raises the question of the extent of the power of the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court to waive jurisdiction over possession of weapons and escape charges which are joined with homicide charges or charges of aggressive, violent and willful offenses against the person. In pertinent part R. 5:9-5(b) states:

The juvenile and domestic relations court may, after a preliminary hearing, without the consent of the juvenile, waive jurisdiction over a case and refer that case to the appropriate court and prosecuting authority having jurisdiction; provided the court shall find that the juvenile was 16 years of age or over at the time of the charged delinquent act and that there is probable cause to believe that the juvenile committed a delinquent act which would constitute homicide * * * if committed by an adult, [or] committed an offense against the person in an aggressive, violent and willful manner * * *.

The rule, effective March 1, 1974, parallels the language of the pertinent statute which was adopted as L. 1973, c. 306, ยง 7, with the same effective date. N.J.S.A. 2A:4-48 states:

The juvenile and domestic relations court may, without the consent of the juvenile, waive jurisdiction over a case and refer that case to the appropriate court and prosecuting authority having jurisdiction if it finds, after hearing, that:

a. The juvenile was 16 years of age or older at the time of the charged delinquent act;

b. There is probable cause to believe that the juvenile committed a delinquent act which would constitute homicide, * * * if committed by an adult or committed an offense against the person in an aggressive, violent and willful manner * * *.

We are concerned with the scope of waiver of Juvenile Court jurisdiction where the court is satisfied that the juvenile committed "an offense against the person in an aggressive, violent and willful manner" or a homicide while in possession of a weapon, or during an escape from custody. Counsel for the juvenile asserts that R. 5:9-5(b) and N.J.S.A. 2A:4-48 authorize waiver of jurisdiction by the Juvenile

Court on the violent offense against the person alone and require retention of all other related charges. The State contends that the Juvenile Court has the power to waive jurisdiction over the entire criminal transaction so long as a complaint charges, and there is probable cause to believe, an aggressive, violent and willful offense against the person has been committed.

The issue arises in the following factual context. In October 1976 a delinquency complaint was filed against the juvenile, R.L.P., charging him with acts which if committed by an adult would constitute homicide, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2A:113-1. The complaint alleges that on October 5 R.L.P., in conjunction with two accomplices, murdered Carmelo Pabon by "stabbing him." The same complaint also charges R.L.P. with possession of a .38-caliber revolver at the same time and place, which if he was an adult would be a violation of N.J.S.A. 2A:151-41.

In February 1977 two additional delinquency complaints were filed against R.L.P. The first charged him with "Escape with the Aid of Gun, threatening life, Poss[ession] and Dang[erous] weapon." Although inartfully drafted, this complaint undoubtedly charged R.L.P. with escape from a detention center, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2A:104-6; threat to take life, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2A:113-8, and possession of a dangerous weapon, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2A:151-41. The second complaint filed in February charged R.L.P. with a robbery, in ...


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