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In re A.M.V.

Court of Appeals of Texas, Thirteenth District, Corpus Christi-Edinburg

November 2, 2017

IN THE MATTER OF A.M.V., A CHILD

         On appeal from the 449th District Court of Hidalgo County, Texas.

          Before Chief Justice Valdez and Justices Contreras and Hinojosa

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Hinojosa Justice

         Appellant A.M.V.[1] appeals from the juvenile court's order waiving jurisdiction and transferring appellant to criminal district court.[2] See Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 54.02 (West, Westlaw through 2017 1st C.S.). By one issue, appellant argues the juvenile court erred by waiving its jurisdiction because appellant "was not served with a summons that tracked the language of Section 54.02(k) [of the Texas Family Code] and was therefore not afforded his due process right to adequate notice." We affirm.

         I. Adequacy of Summons[3]

         A. Pertinent Facts

         The State filed a petition with the juvenile court seeking to transfer appellant to criminal district court to stand trial for the offense of aggravated sexual assault. See Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 22.021(a)(2) (West, Westlaw through 2017 1st C.S.). Appellant was a juvenile at the time of the alleged offense, but he is now an adult. See Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 54.02(j) (providing for discretionary transfer and waiver of jurisdiction for person "18 years of age or older"). The State served appellant with a summons and a copy of the petition. The summons provided in pertinent part that appellant was "to appear . . . to answer the allegations in the STATE'S PETITION FOR DISCRETIONARY TRANSFER TO CRIMINAL COURT (18) which is attached hereto and made a part hereof." (Emphasis in original).

         The petition contained language requesting the juvenile court "to transfer [appellant] to the appropriate criminal district court to stand trial for [aggravated sexual assault.]" The State prayed that the juvenile court "waive its exclusive original jurisdiction and order the felony charge(s) against [appellant] transferred to an appropriate criminal district court[.]" Appellant argued to the trial court that "[t]he State's summons was defective" and "his right [to] due process [was] compromised." The juvenile court's order granting the State's petition is the subject of this appeal.

         B. Applicable Law

         A juvenile court has exclusive original jurisdiction over all proceedings involving the delinquent conduct of a person who was a child at the time they engaged in the conduct. Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 51.04(a) (West, Westlaw through 2017 1st C.S.); see id. § 51.02(2)(A) (West, Westlaw through 2017 1st C.S.) (defining "child" as a person who is "ten years of age or older and under 17 years of age"). If a juvenile court determines after an evidentiary hearing that certain requirements are satisfied, it may waive its jurisdiction and transfer a child to the district court for criminal proceedings. Id. § 54.02. Generally, juvenile courts maintain jurisdiction over a child who has turned eighteen only to transfer the case to the criminal district court or dismiss the case. In re N.J.A., 997 S.W.2d 554, 556 (Tex. 1999); In re B.R.H., 426 S.W.3d 163, 166 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 2012, orig. proceeding). Section 54.02(j) sets out procedures for the waiver of jurisdiction when the person before the court is over the age of eighteen. See Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 54.02(j).

         In proceedings before a juvenile court, due process requires notice that would be deemed constitutionally adequate in a civil or criminal proceeding. In re Gault, 387 U.S. 1, 33 (1967). Section 53.06 of the family code provides that a juvenile court "shall direct issuance of a summons" to the child named in the petition, among others. See Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 53.06(a) (West, Westlaw through 2017 1st C.S.). "A copy of the petition must accompany the summons, " and "[t]he summons must require the persons served to appear before the court at the time set to answer the allegations of the petition." Id. § 53.06(b). Where the person before the juvenile court is over eighteen, "the summons must state that the hearing is for the purpose of considering waiver of jurisdiction under Subsection (j)." Id. § 54.02(k). Compliance with section 54.02 "is mandatory and prerequisite to the juvenile court jurisdiction to consider waiver of jurisdiction and discretionary transfer to criminal court." In re W. L. C., 562 S.W.2d 454, 455 (Tex. 1978).

         We review de novo the juvenile court's determination of law. In re S.J., 977 S.W.2d 147, 149 (Tex. App.-San Antonio 1998, no pet.).

         C. Analysis

         Appellant argues that the summons did not comply with section 54.02. Specifically, appellant maintains that "[t]he State failed to cite subsection (j) in their summons therefore, the summons is defective and the lower ...


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