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In re H.A.

Court of Appeals of Texas, Second District, Fort Worth

December 19, 2019

In the Matter of H.A.

          On Appeal from the 323rd District Court Tarrant County, Texas Trial Court No. 323-109828-19

          Before Gabriel, Kerr, and Womack, JJ.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          DANA WOMACK JUSTICE

         I. Introduction

         In a single issue, appellant H.A. (Harold)[1] argues that the juvenile court abused its discretion by sentencing him to an eight-year term of commitment in the custody of the Texas Juvenile Justice Department (TJJD) after adjudicating him delinquent upon a finding that he had committed the felony offense of aggravated robbery. See Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 54.04(d)(3); Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 29.03(a)(2), (b). We conclude the juvenile court did not abuse its discretion and therefore affirm.

         II. Background

         In January 2019, the State filed a petition alleging that Harold had engaged in delinquent conduct by committing the offense of aggravated robbery, a first-degree felony. See Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 29.03(a)(2), (b). A grand jury subsequently approved the petition, and after holding an adjudication hearing, the juvenile court found beyond a reasonable doubt that Harold had committed the offense alleged and that he had thus engaged in delinquent conduct. See Tex. Fam. Code Ann. §§ 53.045, 54.03. The case then proceeded to a disposition hearing. See id. § 54.04. Following that hearing, the juvenile court found that Harold was in need of rehabilitation and that the protection of the public and of Harold required that a disposition be made. See id. § 54.04(c).

         In addition, the juvenile court found that (1) it was in Harold's best interest to be placed outside of his home, (2) reasonable efforts had been made to prevent or eliminate the need for Harold's removal from his home and to make it possible for him to return to his home, and (3) Harold could not be provided the quality of care and the level of support and supervision in his home that he needed to meet the conditions of probation. See id. § 54.04(i)(1). The juvenile court accordingly sentenced Harold to an eight-year term of commitment in the TJJD, with a possible transfer to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. See id. § 54.04(d)(3). Harold then brought this appeal. See id. § 56.01(c)(1)(C).

         III. Discussion

         In his sole issue, Harold attacks the juvenile court's disposition decision, arguing that the juvenile court abused its discretion by sentencing him to a term of commitment in the TJJD.

         A. Applicable Law

         Where, as here, (1) a juvenile court finds that a child engaged in delinquent conduct that included committing aggravated robbery, (2) the court further finds that the child is in need of rehabilitation or that the protection of the public or the child requires that disposition be made, and (3) a grand jury approved the underlying petition for adjudication, the court may sentence the child to a term of commitment in the TJJD. See id. §§ 53.045(a)(7), 54.04(c), (d)(3); Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 29.03. When sentencing a child to a term of commitment in the TJJD, the juvenile court "shall include in its order" its determination that:

(A) it is in the child's best interests to be placed outside the child's home;
(B) reasonable efforts were made to prevent or eliminate the need for the child's removal from the home and to make it possible for the child ...

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