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Juvenile Court Briefs

October 20, 2005|by PEPPER BALLARD

Pa. teen to serve probation equivalent



A 17-year-old Waynesboro, Pa., boy admitted Wednesday in Washington County juvenile court to driving under the influence and was ordered to serve the juvenile equivalent of probation before judgment.

Probation before judgment is the conditional avoidance of imposition of a sentence or, in a juvenile case, a disposition. If certain conditions, which in this case included getting a drug and alcohol evaluation and maintaining employment, are not satisfied, the boy could be brought back for violating his probation.

At about midnight on Aug. 6, the boy was traveling north on Md. 77, south of Md. 64, when he crashed his car, Washington County Assistant State's Attorney Michelle Flores said. The tow truck driver told police he smelled a strong odor of alcohol on the boy's breath, she said. The boy said at first that he swerved to avoid a deer but later changed his story, saying he was going too fast and crashed, she said.

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The boy failed a field sobriety test, and a test of his blood alcohol content resulted in a .13 reading.

A Department of Juvenile Services representative said the boy is attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. A Washington County Health Department representative said he didn't think it was necessary to require the boy to attend those meetings, but he wanted to evaluate him first.

The boy's father told Circuit Judge Donald E. Beachley, sitting in juvenile court, that he used to be an alcoholic but has been "alcohol free" for the past five years.

"My son has realized what he's done," the father told Beachley. "He's on a strict lockdown."

The boy told Beachley, "I've learned that I have a drinking problem, so I'm just trying to improve my life."

Beachley told the youth to learn from his father's mistakes regarding alcohol use.

"This is a good deal for you if you comply with these conditions," Beachley told him.




Four boys admit to robbing fellow youth



Four boys admitted Wednesday in Washington County juvenile court to robbing a youth of his jewelry and clothes while they walked together on railroad tracks in August.

Dispositions, the juvenile equivalent of sentencing, for three of the boys, ages 16, 17 and 14, were delayed Wednesday pending the completion of predisposition investigations.

Circuit Judge Donald E. Beachley, sitting in juvenile court, ordered the boys to remain at the Western Maryland Children's Center, a juvenile detention facility, pending Nov. 2 dispositions.

The fourth boy, a 14-year-old, also admitted that his admission to the robbery was a violation of his probation. Beachley ordered that youth to be held at the detention facility until he is placed in Redirect, an early-intervention program in Flintstone, Md.

On Aug. 19, at about 8:20 p.m., a youth reported that he had been robbed by four juveniles and an adult while the group walked together on railroad tracks near McDonald's on Massey Boulevard, Washington County Assistant State's Attorney Michelle Flores said.

The victim met the youths at Valley Mall and walked with them until they got under a bridge, where the robbery occurred, she said.

The robbers made off with the victim's wallet, ring, jeans and shirt after they "began kicking him in the head and face area," she said.

She said that each of the boys owe the victim $58.40.




Judge critical of communication



Questions about the communication between the Department of Juvenile Services and the court were raised Wednesday by Circuit Judge Donald E. Beachley, sitting in juvenile court, after he learned that a boy's bad behavior and poor attendance in school were not reported as violations of his probation.

The 14-year-old, along with three other youths, admitted Wednesday in juvenile court to an August robbery. The 14-year-old boy also admitted that the offense was a violation of his probation, which was ordered in September 2004.

A Washington County Public Schools representative said that the boy had been written up 12 times during the 2004-05 school year for behavioral problems.

Maintaining good behavior and attending school regularly are general juvenile probation conditions.

Beachley asked a juvenile services case manager why those behavioral problems were not reported to the court as violations of the boy's probation. He asked that the case manager's supervisor be brought into court that afternoon to address the problem.

"Don't ignore violations of probation," Beachley told the representative. "If that occurred, I need to know about it."

The school system representative said in the afternoon hearing that the boy had 29 absences between December and March alone, but listed several other absences, too.

In the afternoon, the department supervisor told Beachley he had conversations about meetings related to the boy, but he was not aware of his absences from school. He took responsibility for the oversight. The case manager, when given a chance to speak, also took responsibility. He told Beachley he did go to about four meetings about the youth, but was not aware that his attendance was so poor.

Beachley said, "This is not good communication" between the department and the court.

He said one could never be sure, but perhaps if those violations were reported, the boy would not have become involved in the robbery.

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