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In re Daniel P.

Supreme Court of Nevada

October 3, 2013

In the Matter of STEVEN DANIEL P., A Minor Child.
v.
Steven Daniel P., A Minor Child, Respondent. The State of Nevada, Appellant,

Page 1042

Catherine Cortez Masto, Attorney General, Carson City; Richard A. Gammick, District Attorney, and Lori L. Plater, Deputy District Attorney, Washoe County, for Appellant.

Jennifer L. Lunt, Alternate Public Defender, and Krista D. Meier and Cynthia Lu, Deputy Alternate Public Defenders, Washoe County, for Respondent.

Before HARDESTY, PARRAGUIRRE and CHERRY, JJ.

OPINION

HARDESTY, J.

The State filed a delinquency petition alleging that respondent Steven P., a juvenile, committed unlawful acts that would be felony and gross misdemeanor charges if committed by an adult. Without the district attorney's written approval, the juvenile court dismissed the State's petition and referred Steven to the probation office for informal supervision. In this appeal, we are asked to determine whether the juvenile court has authority under NRS 62C.230(1)(a) to dismiss a delinquency petition and refer a juvenile for informal supervision pursuant to NRS 62C.200 without the written approval of the district attorney, and whether the juvenile court's discretion in overseeing a juvenile matter is limited by the authority granted under the Nevada Revised Statutes. We conclude that NRS 62C.230(1)(a) grants the juvenile court authority to dismiss a petition and refer a juvenile for informal supervision only when the requirements of NRS 62C.200 have been met, including the requirement that the district attorney give written approval for placement of the juvenile under informal supervision where the acts alleged in the petition would be a felony or gross misdemeanor if committed by an adult. Further, we conclude that the juvenile court is limited by the provisions of NRS Title 5 when exercising its authority to carry out its duties in overseeing juvenile justice matters.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

The State filed a delinquency petition on September 12, 2011, alleging that Steven P., a juvenile, committed burglary (a felony) and conspiracy to commit burglary (a gross misdemeanor). The parties negotiated a dismissal of the burglary allegation in exchange for Steven admitting the conspiracy allegation and agreeing to adjudication on that allegation.

On January 9, 2012, the juvenile court accepted the plea bargain and dismissed the burglary allegation. The probation officer assigned to Steven specifically recommended in a risk and needs assessment report that Steven be placed on formal probation. Based on this report, the State requested at the hearing that Steven be made " a delinquent ward of the court" and placed on probation. The court reserved ruling on the State's petition and on Steven's probationary status because of concerns with ordering formal probation.

Approximately one month after the dispositional hearing, no decision on the status of Steven's case had been made. The State filed a motion for adjudication, contending that pursuant to NRS 62D.310(1), a final disposition of the case was required within 60 days of the filing of the petition on September

Page 1043

12, 2011.[1] In its motion, the State reasserted its request that the juvenile court adjudicate Steven on the conspiracy allegation. Additionally, the State indicated that Steven " could earn a deferred status and dismissal of the charge if he successfully complete[d] probation and ha[d] no further delinquent referrals." The State contended that pursuant to NRS 62C.200-.230, deferred adjudication required approval from the district attorney prior to the juvenile court allowing informal supervision.

The juvenile justice statutes provide for informal supervision. When a complaint alleges a juvenile is delinquent or in need of supervision, a probation officer conducts a preliminary inquiry and makes a recommendation whether a petition for delinquency should be filed or whether the interests of the juvenile would be better served by placing the juvenile under informal supervision pursuant to NRS 62C.200. NRS 62C.100(1). If the probation officer recommends informal supervision following a complaint, NRS 62C.200(1)(b) provides that a juvenile may be informally supervised by a probation officer if " [t]he district attorney gives written approval for placement of the child under informal supervision, [and] if any of the acts alleged ... would have constituted a gross misdemeanor or felony if committed by an adult." If, however, a petition for delinquency is filed, " the juvenile court may ... refer the child to the probation officer for informal supervision pursuant to NRS 62C.200." NRS 62C.230(1)(a). Additionally, NRS 62C.230(1)(b) provides that a juvenile may be placed under supervision " pursuant to a supervision and consent decree, without a formal adjudication of delinquency, if the juvenile court receives: (1)[t]he recommendation of the probation officer; (2)[t]he written approval of the district attorney; and (3)[t]he written consent and approval of the child and the parent or guardian of the child."

Here, a petition had been filed. Thus, NRS 62C.230 addresses the availability of informal supervision. Without the district attorney's written approval, the juvenile court dismissed the State's petition and referred Steven for informal supervision. The juvenile court reasoned that NRS 62C.230(1)(a) did not require written approval from the district attorney. Based on this interpretation of the statute, the juvenile court determined that it could ...


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