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State v. 1/31/79

December 16, 1996

STATE OF WASHINGTON, RESPONDENT,
v.
J.J.J. B.D.: 1/31/79, APPELLANT.



Appeal from Superior Court of King County. Docket No: 95-8-02839-1. Date filed: 01/31/96. Judge signing: Hon. Marsha J. Pechman.

PER CURIAM. J.J.J. appeals the order of Disposition entered following his conviction in juvenile court of one count of theft in the third degree. The sole issue on appeal is whether the court exceeded its statutory authority when it converted 24 hours community service hours to 3 days detention.

Because J.J.J. has already served the detention days and the court can no longer provide effective relief, the issue is moot. In re Swanson, 115 Wash. 2d 21, 24, 793 P.2d 962, 804 P.2d 1 (1990). Nevertheless, we exercise our discretion to decide the issue because the issue involves a question of continuing and substantial public interest. Swanson, 115 Wash. 2d at 24; State v. W.W., 76 Wash. App. 754, 757, 887 P.2d 914 (1995)(although moot, the court addressed the issue of whether a juvenile was improperly denied release pending appeal because it is a matter of continuing and substantial public interest). Moreover, the error is capable of repetition, but evades review. In re Irwin, 64 Wash. App. 38, 60, 822 P.2d 797, review denied, 119 Wash. 2d 1009, 833 P.2d 387 (1992).

The standard range for J.J.J.'s offense was 2-4 days detention, 8-24 hours community service, 0-3 months community supervision and a $0-25 fine.

After concluding that there were no factors to support an option B or manifest inJustice Disposition, the court imposed a standard range Disposition of four days detention, 24 hours community service and 3 months community supervision. Over defense counsel's objection, the court then converted the 24 hours of community service to 3 days detention and credited J.J.J. with three days for detention time he had served. The net effect of the conversion was to require J.J.J. to serve a total of 7 days detention, despite the fact that the standard range for the offense is 2-4 days.

J.J.J. contends that the court was without express authority to convert community service hours to detention days. The State concedes that the conversion was erroneous. The State's concession of error is well taken.

At the time the Disposition was entered, J.J.J. was a middle offender.

Accordingly, the juvenile court had three alternatives in sentencing him:

(1) impose a standard range Disposition; (2) impose an option B Disposition; or (3) impose a manifest inJustice Disposition. RCW 13.40.160(4). RCW 13.40.0357. Under the option B and manifest inJustice Disposition alternatives, the juvenile court could impose more confinement than permitted under the standard range, but both alternatives require the court to state aggravating circumstances. RCW 13.40.160(4)(b), (c). The court specifically found no aggravating circumstances to support an option B or manifest inJustice Disposition.

The only provision of the Juvenile Justice Act that authorizes the conversion of community service hours to detention days is RCW 13.40.200, which provides, among other things, that when a juvenile willfully violates an order requiring community service, the court may modify the order and impose a term of confinement "assessed at a rate of one day of confinement for each . . . eight hours of community service owed." RCW 13.40.200(3)(b). It is undisputed that this section has no application in this case.

No provision of the Juvenile Justice Act authorized the court to convert J.J.J.'s community service hours to detention days. In doing so, the court exceeded its statutory authority.

In addition, under In re Trambitas, 96 Wash. 2d 329, 635 P.2d 122 (1981), the conversion violated due process and equal protection. A juvenile subject to preDisposition detention time is entitled to credit for time served, RCW 13.40.160(7), and denying a juvenile credit for time served violates due process and equal protection. Trambitas, 96 Wash. 2d at 333-34.

In this case the net effect of the juvenile court's conversion of community service hours to detention days was to deprive J.J.J. of credit for time served prior to Disposition and to detain him three days longer than allowable under the standard range without a finding of aggravating circumstances, a result prohibited by Trambitas.

State v. Cook, 37 Wash. App. 269, 679 P.2d 413 (1984), is not inconsistent. In Cook, the court held that when the juvenile court imposes a standard range Disposition which includes community supervision but no detention time, due process and equal protection require that the juvenile's pretrial detention time be credited toward the community service hours. Nothing in Cook authorizes conversion of community service hours to detention days.

The juvenile court erred in converting J.J.J.'s community service hours to detention days. Because J.J.J. has already served ...


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