Court of Appeals of Texas, Eighth District, El Paso
from the 327th District Court of El Paso County, Texas (TC#
Panel No. 1 Larsen, McClure, and Chew, JJ.
an appeal from an Order of Adjudication which found appellant
E.D.C. (''E.C.") had engaged in delinquent
conduct. We affirm.
of the Evidence
evening of August 7, 2001, E.C. attempted to cross into the
United States at the Paso Del Norte Bridge between Juarez,
Mexico and El Paso, Texas driving a Honda CRX. While waiting
to enter the United States, E.C. was stopped by U.S. Customs
Service officials (''Customs") on pre-primary
patrol. Pre-primary roving occurs before persons entering
into the United States reach primary inspection booths.
is commonly used to smuggle contraband, including drugs, into
this country. E.C.'s CRX was extremely clean both inside
and out--a characteristic common to vehicles used for
smuggling contraband. Her car also had temporary Kansas
license plates that appeared to be counterfeits. The
appearance of the CRX thus raised Customs officers suspicions
concerning the vehicle.
E.C. answered questions put to her by Customs, she appeared
extremely nervous. She stated she owned the vehicle. Customs
did a cursory visual inspection of the car and discovered
that two storage compartments which should have been in the
vehicle were missing. E.C. was asked to step out of the car
and the keys to the vehicle were taken by Customs.
inspection of the car revealed a large sealed false
compartment. Suspecting contraband was contained within the
compartment, Customs followed their safety routine,
handcuffed E.C., and took her to a holding facility.
Customs' inspection of the CRX at secondary revealed
twenty-four bundles of marijuana that weighed 34.5 pounds.
E.C. was ultimately turned over to the El Paso County
Sheriff's Department who processed her at a juvenile
probation detention facility in El Paso.
was charged with intentionally and knowingly possessing a
usable amount of marijuana in the amount of fifty pounds or
less but more than five pounds. Tex. Health & Safety Code
Ann. § 481.121(b)(4) (Vernon Supp. 2002). A Petition
Based on Delinquent Conduct was filed by the State in August
2001 alleging that E.C. ''[A]t the time of the
conduct alleged . . . [was] a female ten years of age or
older and under 17 years of age, to wit: 15 years of age . .
. ." No answer to the State's Petition Based on
Delinquent Conduct was filed on her behalf.
the advice of counsel, E.C. requested trial by a jury which
began on November 5, 2001. The case was heard in the 327th
Judicial District Court in El Paso County, Texas by a
Juvenile Court Referee and a jury. Although E.C.'s
parents were served in their home state of Colorado with
summons and notice of the trial, both refused to appear. At
trial, the State attempted to introduce evidence of
E.C.'s age from several sources, but E.C.'s
objections to that evidence were sustained by the trial
court. The jury found that E.C. had engaged in delinquent
conduct as charged by the State. This appeal timely ensued.
single point of error, E.C. contends her adjudication as a
delinquent must be reversed and her case remanded for a new
trial because the State failed to prove she was a juvenile
within the age limit of the court's statutory grant of
authority. For those reasons discussed below, we affirm the
order of adjudication of the trial court.
Texas Family Code defines a child as ''a person who
is: ten years of age or older and under 17 years of age . . .
." Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 51.02(2)(A) (Vernon 2002).
A juvenile court retains exclusive original jurisdiction over
a person defined as a child within the ...