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In re J.C.D.

Court of Appeals of Texas, Twelfth District, Tyler

October 31, 2019

IN THE MATTER OF J.C.D., A JUVENILE

          Appeal from the County Court at Law No. 1 of Henderson County, Texas (Tr.Ct.No. JUV18-0012-CC1)

          Panel consisted of Worthen, C.J., Hoyle, J., and Neeley, J.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          GREG NEELEY JUSTICE

         J.C.D. appeals the juvenile court's order of discretionary transfer of his case to adult criminal court. In his sole issue, Appellant challenges the legal and factual sufficiency of the evidence of his age at the time of the offense and the timeliness of the prosecution. We affirm.

         Background

         The State filed a petition for discretionary transfer in the juvenile court alleging that Appellant committed two felony offenses when he was more than fourteen but less than seventeen years of age. First, it alleged that Appellant engaged in sexual contact with H.M., a child under the age of fourteen, by touching his genitals. Second, it alleged that Appellant caused H.M.'s sexual organ to contact Appellant's mouth.[1] The State further alleged that Appellant was currently twenty-one years of age and it was not practicable to proceed in juvenile court before his eighteenth birthday because the State was not then aware of the allegations.

         After a hearing on the matter, the juvenile court found probable cause to believe that Appellant committed the offenses. The court further found that he was over fourteen years of age at the time of the offenses and over eighteen years of age when they were initially reported. Thus, the court found that it was not practicable to proceed before Appellant's eighteenth birthday. Finally, the court found that the welfare of the community requires criminal proceedings in the matter, waived its exclusive original jurisdiction, and ordered the case transferred to district court. This appeal followed.

         Evidentiary Sufficiency

         In his sole issue, Appellant argues that the evidence regarding his age at the time of the offenses and the timeliness of the prosecution is legally and factually insufficient to support the transfer order.

         Standard of Review and Applicable Law

         Texas juvenile courts have exclusive original jurisdiction over proceedings in cases involving the delinquent conduct of an adult who was a child at the time of the conduct. Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 51.04(a) (West Supp. 2018). Delinquent conduct includes conduct other than a traffic offense that violates a penal law and is punishable by imprisonment or confinement in jail. Id. § 51.03(a) (West Supp. 2018). "Child" includes a person who is ten years of age or older and under seventeen years of age. Id. § 51.02(2)(A) (West Supp. 2018). Regarding the transfer of such cases, family code Section 54.02(j) provides, in pertinent part, that

[t]he juvenile court may waive its exclusive original jurisdiction and transfer a person to the appropriate district court or criminal district court for criminal proceedings if:
(1) the person is 18 years of age or ...

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