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State v. Mock

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Third Circuit

February 6, 2019

STATE OF LOUISIANA
v.
STEPHEN LLOYD MOCK

          APPEAL FROM THE THIRTY-FIFTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF GRANT, NO. 17-145 HONORABLE WARREN DANIEL WILLETT, DISTRICT JUDGE.

          Hon. James P. Lemoine District Attorney, 35th JDC Renee W. Nugent COUNSEL FOR APPELLEE: State of Louisiana

          Edward K. Bauman Louisiana Appellate Project COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT-APPELLANT: Stephen Lloyd Mock

          Court composed of Elizabeth A. Pickett, John E. Conery, and Candyce G. Perret, Judges.

          CANDYCE G. PERRET JUDGE.

         Defendant, Stephen Lloyd Mock, appeals his conviction of one count of sexual battery, a violation of La.R.S. 14:43.1. Because we find that the district court lacked jurisdiction over Defendant, we hereby vacate Defendant's conviction and sentence for sexual battery and remand this matter to the trial court for further proceedings.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY:

         On February 15, 2017, Defendant was charged by bill of information with two counts of sexual battery, violations of La.R.S. 14:43.1. On March 31, 2017, an amended bill of information was filed, charging Defendant with fifteen counts of sexual battery, violations of La.R.S. 14:43.1. After waiving his right to a trial by jury, Defendant was tried by a judge on January 25, 2018, and found guilty of one count of sexual battery of H.L., a victim that had not obtained the age of fifteen and was at least three years younger than Defendant. Defendant was also found to be sixteen or younger when he committed the offense.

         Since the trial court specifically found Defendant committed the sexual battery when he was sixteen, the trial court found Defendant must be sentenced in accordance with the Children's Code to the Department of Public Safety until his twenty-first birthday. Based on a motion to reconsider sentence filed by the State, the trial court reconsidered the sentence and found Defendant could be sentenced to the amount of time he would have served as a juvenile up to his twenty-first birthday (up to five years). Subsequently, on March 29, 2018, the trial court sentenced Defendant to four years at hard labor. The trial court also ordered Defendant to pay court costs and a fee of $1250.00 to the Public Defender's Office. The trial court notified Defendant of his obligation to register as a sex offender upon his release from incarceration. Finally, the trial court ordered Defendant to have no contact with the victim or the victim's parents until the victim turned eighteen.

         On April 18, 2018, Defendant filed a motion for appeal, which was granted by the trial court that same date. Defendant now appeals alleging one assignment of error as to the sufficiency of the evidence.

         ERRORS PATENT:

         In accordance with La.Code Crim.P. art. 920, all appeals are reviewed for errors patent on the face of the record. After reviewing the record, we find there is an error patent requiring Defendant's conviction be vacated and declared a nullity for lack of jurisdiction.

         Defendant was originally charged with two counts of sexual battery committed in September 2014. Since Defendant's date of birth is December 18, 1996, Defendant would have been seventeen at the time of the charged offenses and, thus, subject to jurisdiction in district court. See La.Ch.Code art. 804(1)(a) and La.Ch.Code art. 303(A)(1). However, the State filed an amended bill of information charging Defendant with committing fifteen counts of sexual battery between October 2012 and September 2014. Considering Defendant's date of birth, Defendant would have been under seventeen during a portion of the date range charged in the bill. In fact, the trial court found Defendant guilty of one count of sexual battery and found Defendant was sixteen or younger when he committed the offense. As pointed out by Defendant's trial counsel, sexual battery is not an offense for which jurisdiction over a juvenile offense may be transferred to district court. La.Ch.Code arts. 305 and 857. Defense counsel argued at sentencing that because the trial court found Defendant was a juvenile when he committed the offense, the trial court lost jurisdiction to impose sentence. The trial court, however, found that jurisdiction was proper in the district court under the following provision:

(2) An adult who is charged with an offense committed at the time he was a child for which the time limitation for the institution of prosecution pursuant to Code of Criminal Procedure Article 571 has not lapsed and for which he was not subject to prosecution as an adult due to his age at the time the offense was committed shall be prosecuted as an adult in the appropriate court exercising criminal jurisdiction. If convicted, he shall be committed to the custody of the Department of Public Safety and Corrections to be confined in secure placement for a period of time as determined by the court not to exceed the maximum amount of confinement he could have been ordered to serve had he been adjudicated for the offense as a child at the time the offense was committed.

La.Ch.Code art. 857(C)(2).[1]

         The trial court explained its ...


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