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C.C. v. State

Florida Court of Appeals, Fourth District

June 19, 2019

C.C., a child, Appellant,

         Not final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court for the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit, Martin County; Curtis Lee Disque, Judge; L.T. Case Nos. 432014CJ000222A, 432016CJ000121A, 432017CJ000185A and 432017CJ000234A.

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

          Ashley B. Moody, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Anesha Worthy, Assistant Attorney General, West Palm Beach, for appellee.

          Taylor, J.

         C.C. appeals his commitment to a high-risk residential program after the trial court departed from the disposition recommended by the Department of Juvenile Justice ("DJJ"). We agree with appellant's argument that the trial court failed to comply with E.A.R. v. State, 4 So.3d 614 (Fla. 2009), in deviating from the DJJ's recommendation for a non-secure residential program. Accordingly, we reverse the disposition order and remand for a new disposition hearing.

         In June 2015, appellant entered no contest pleas to burglary charges and was placed on probation. In March 2016, he admitted to violating his probation after getting new charges, but the trial court reinstated probation. In July 2016, appellant again admitted to allegations that he had violated his probation. After ordering a pre-disposition report and comprehensive evaluation, the trial court sentenced appellant to a non-secure residential facility with post-commitment probation to follow.

         Less than a month after his release from the residential program, appellant was arrested in June 2017. Appellant entered an open plea of no contest to the charges and admitted to having violated his probation. The trial court set disposition for December 2017 and ordered a predisposition report, comprehensive evaluation, staffing, and placement level recommendation from the DJJ.

         In its report, the DJJ recommended that appellant be placed in a non-secure commitment facility, explaining:

During the staffing, JPO Baker provided a verbal overview of the youth's history with the Department and his current charges, services that [appellant] is currently receiving, and his criminogenic needs. It was noted that [appellant] was released from his commitment program less than seven months ago, and obtained new charges within 18 days of returning to the community. [Appellant] displayed a nonchalant attitude towards the Department's effort to aid him in rehabilitation and turning around his life. This was evident due to the number of services he has been referred to, with continued anti-social behaviors. [Appellant] offered no argument in his own defense, as to why he feels as though he should continue on Post-Commitment Probation. He was unable to offer an explanation for his behaviors or a plan on how he would not recidivate.
In conclusion of the Multidisciplinary Staffing, the Department of Juvenile Justice came to the recommendation of Non-Secure Residential Commitment. According to the PACT Tool, the youth scores HIGH risk to re-offend. The current charge is a minor offense, and in accordance to the Dispositional Matrix, the risk level and manner of offense criteria is in the range of a Level 3a-c (Probation, Probation Enhancement Services or Day Treatment) or Level 4 (Non-secure Residential Commitment) recommendation. Due to [appellant's] current criminogenic needs, it was determined that a Level 4 (Non-secure Residential Commitment) recommendation was appropriate.
The youth's criminal history, social history, attitudes, and behaviors were taken into consideration. "Per F.S 985.435(4) The Department respectfully recommends the court authorize the use of the Effective Response Matrix (ERM) as an alternative consequences component to address youth noncompliance with technical conditions of probation."

         The comprehensive evaluation, referred to by the DJJ in its report, concluded that appellant had "significant antisocial behaviors, the inability to adhere to the criteria set forth in his probation agreement, anger management problems, Cannabis Abuse issues, and a history of sexual abuse."

         At the disposition hearing, appellant's mother asked the trial court to allow him to remain on probation, noting that he was helping around the house and had stayed out of trouble, except for referrals for minor incidents at school. Appellant's clinical therapist added that appellant was ...

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