On appeal from the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, Somerset County.
This is an appeal from a final adjudication of delinquency with respect to complaints charging the juvenile with joy riding and four incidents of criminal mischief in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:20-10 and N.J.S.A. 2C:17-3, respectively.*fn1 The juvenile was committed to the Youth Reception and Correction Center at Jamesburg for an indeterminate aggregate term not to exceed 18 months. On appeal, the juvenile contends that the adjudication of delinquency was violative of the Federal and State prohibitions against double jeopardy.*fn2 We agree and are, thus, constrained to reverse.
All of the charges emanated out of incidents which occurred on the night of November 12, 1982. The State's proofs disclosed that C.K., M.C. and D.R. had been drinking alcoholic beverages most of the day and were apparently intoxicated. Late in the evening, D.R. drove C.K. and M.C. to the Somerset Medical Center and then departed. The evidence pertaining to what transpired thereafter is conflicting.
M.C. testified that he and C.K. began rummaging through the glove compartments of several of the automobiles in the adjacent parking lot. Apparently the two juveniles were looking for valuables or keys. In one instance, C.K. broke the
driver's side window of a 1970 Volkswagen with a baseball bat that M.C. had removed from D.R.'s automobile. After entering the vehicle, M.C. searched the glove compartment while C.K. unsuccessfully attempted to start the engine.
In rapid succession, the two juveniles entered a 1968 Dodge, a 1974 Datsun, a 1977 Chevrolet and a 1970 Mercury futilely seeking to find a set of keys. When their efforts proved unavailing, they stripped the plastic covering of the steering column with respect to one automobile and removed the ignition of another. Finally, the two juveniles entered an unlocked 1964 Pontiac Lemans, discovered a set of keys in the glove compartment and drove off.
Both C.K. and M.C. shared driving the automobile for approximately an hour when they noticed a Hillsboro police officer following them. During the ensuing chase, M.C. lost control of the car and crashed into a grove of trees. C.K. and M.C. hid in the nearby woods and thus escaped detection. When M.C. was apprehended for an unrelated incident, he confessed his participation in the offenses upon which this prosecution was based and implicated C.K.
C.K.'s version of the incident differed substantially from that described by M.C. C.K. testified that he "ran under the emergency overhang" of the Medical Center when M.C. began entering the parked automobiles. Shortly thereafter, C.K. joined M.C. and drove off in the Pontiac.
The State's case consisted primarily of the testimony of M.C. and a stipulation which had been entered prior to trial. The stipulation identified the owner of each vehicle and the amount of the damage caused by the perpetrator's conduct. Although its probative value is somewhat unclear, the prosecutor stated that its effect was to obviate the necessity of having the victims appear and testify.
Following the presentation of evidence and summations by the attorneys, the trial judge "enter[ed] findings of not guilty on all of the charges. . . ." ...