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R.L.C. v. State

Florida Court of Appeals, Fourth District

April 4, 2018

R.L.C., a child, Appellant,
v.
STATE OF FLORIDA, Appellee.

         Not final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court for the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit, St. Lucie County; Michael Heisey, Judge; L.T. Case Nos. 562017CJ000086A, 562016CJ000826A and 562016CJ000645B.

          Carey Haughwout, Public Defender, and Virginia Murphy, Assistant Public Defender, West Palm Beach, for appellant.

          Pamela Jo Bondi, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Joseph D. Coronato, Jr., Assistant Attorney General, West Palm Beach, for appellee.

          May, J.

         The juvenile appeals a disposition order committing him to a non-secure residential program. He argues the trial court erred in failing to make the requisite findings to support its decision. We agree and reverse in part.

         The State charged the juvenile, and he pled in three separate cases, including two violations of probation. The Department of Juvenile Justice ("DJJ") recommended probation. The trial court ultimately adjudicated him delinquent and committed him to a non-secure residential program.

         In the first case, the juvenile pled no contest to one count of battery, a first degree misdemeanor. The State nolle prossed a second count. The trial court withheld adjudication and placed him on probation.

         Two months later, the juvenile pled no contest to a disorderly conduct charge, a second degree misdemeanor, and the State nolle prossed a disruption of an educational institution charge. The juvenile also admitted a probation violation. The trial court withheld adjudication and again placed him on probation.

         In the third case, the juvenile admitted the probation violations and pled no contest to one count of battery and one count of assault. The trial court requested a comprehensive evaluation, staffing, and predisposition report. The court specifically requested the DJJ to "include a written recommendation for a restrictiveness level as defined in Florida Statute 985.03(44)." The court placed the juvenile on home detention pending the disposition hearing.

         In its predisposition report, the DJJ indicated that the juvenile could remain on probation and be treated in the community. But, if he continued to violate probation-including incurring new law violations- then program placement would need to be considered. The predisposition report indicated the juvenile was a moderate to high level risk to re-offend.

         A week after his comprehensive evaluation interview, and while on home detention, the juvenile received a school disciplinary referral for assaulting a pregnant student. He was suspended from school and another probation violation was filed for the new substantive offense and for failing a drug test.

         At the disposition hearing, the State requested the trial court to follow the DJJ's alternative recommendation and place the juvenile in a non-secure residential program. Defense counsel asked ...


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