STATE OF LOUISIANA IN THE INTEREST OF H. H.
Appeal from The Juvenile Court In and for the Parish of East
Baton Rouge State of Louisiana Juvenile Court No. 108, 642
Honorable Pamela T. Johnson, Judge Presiding
C. Moore, III District Attorney Otha Curtis Nelson, Jr.
Assistant District Attorney Baton Rouge, LA Attorneys for
Plaintiff -Appellant, State of Louisiana.
K. Scott, III Baton Rouge, LA Attorney for Defendant
-Appellee, H. H.
BEFORE: HIGGINBOTHAM, HOLDRIDGE, AND PENZATO, JJ.
sixteen-year-old juvenile, H. H., was alleged to be
delinquent according to a petition filed by the State on
October 16, 2015, pursuant to the Louisiana Children's
Code. The petition was based upon the alleged commission of
two counts of first degree rape (victims under the age of
thirteen years), violations of Louisiana Revised Statutes
l4;42A(4) (counts one and two); and two counts of indecent
behavior with a juvenile, violations of Louisiana Revised
Statutes 14:8 lA(1) (counts three and four). All four counts
were alleged to have occurred on or about January 1, 2015,
through August 19, 2015. The juvenile entered a denial to the
allegations. Following an adjudication hearing, the juvenile
was adjudicated delinquent on count three, indecent behavior
with a juvenile, and the juvenile court dismissed counts one,
two, and four. At the disposition hearing, the juvenile judge
reprimanded and warned the juvenile. The State filed a motion
to reconsider disposition, which the juvenile court denied.
On appeal, the State raises two assignments of error.
adjudication hearing was not made part of the record on
appeal. According to the predisposition report and petition,
on August 19, 2015, the Zachary Police Department received a
complaint that the juvenile had sexually abused two of his
younger step-siblings on or about January 1, 2015, through
August 19, 2015.
related assignments of error, the State argues that the
juvenile court abused its discretion in rendering the
disposition and that the disposition is illegally lenient.
Specifically, the State contends that the disposition entered
fails to take into consideration the circumstances of the
case, the needs of the child, and the best interest of
juvenile court judge is given wide discretion in the
imposition of dispositions within statutory limits. See
State in the Interest of S.D., 2014-439 (La.App. 3d
Cir. 10/ 1/ 14), 149 So.3d 917, 921, writ denied, 2016- 1953
(La. 11/ 15/ 16), 205 So.3d 907. After adjudicating a child
to be delinquent, a court is required to impose the
"least restrictive disposition" authorized by
Articles 897 through 900 of the Louisiana Children's
Code, "which the court finds is consistent with the
circumstances of the case, the needs of the child, and the
best interest of society." See La. Ch. Code art. 901B.
Under Louisiana Children's Code article 897A(1), after
adjudication of any felony-grade delinquent act other than
those described in Article 897. l, the juvenile court may
"[r]eprimand and warn the child and release him into the
custody of his parents either unconditionally or subject to
such terms and conditions as deemed in the best interests of
the child and the public."
to Louisiana Revised Statutes 14.8lH(1), "[w]hoever
commits the crime of indecent behavior with juveniles shall
be fined not more than five thousand dollars, or imprisoned
with or without hard labor for not more than seven years, or
disposition hearing, a predisposition report, psychosexual
evaluation, and an addendum to the predisposition report were
filed into evidence. According to the predisposition report,
the juvenile participated in and successfully completed
individual sex offender treatment provided by Dr. Romano and
Associates. A letter dated June 13, 2016, from Dr. Romano
stating that the juvenile consistently and promptly attended
his sessions was attached to the predisposition report.
Although he maintained his innocence, the juvenile remained
actively engaged in treatment and was receptive to feedback.
According to the letter, the juvenile's overall level of
progress was acceptable, and he reached maximum therapeutic
benefit. In explaining the juvenile's discharge, Dr.
Romano specifically stated:
If an individual denies the offense, never committed the
offense, or is not adjudicated for the offense, the therapist
can only provide the necessary resources and tools to
hopefully prevent recidivism or even a first time offense;
the therapist is somewhat limited in what can be provided
without one or more of these conditions being met. In
summation, a ...