Bacon, a juvenile, pleaded guilty to robbery in the second
degree. The juvenile court declared that the standard range
disposition would effectuate a manifest injustice. The court
imposed a 65 week disposition, and suspended it while placing
him on community supervision. The State appeals, arguing that
declaring a manifest injustice does not give the juvenile
court the authority to suspend a disposition. Because the
legislature has authorized juvenile courts to suspend
dispositions only in limited circumstances not applicable
here, we reverse.
September 2015, Bacon took a woman's purse against her
will and used force when they struggled over it. The woman
fell and scraped her knees but did not suffer serious bodily
injury. Bacon pleaded guilty to robbery in the second degree.
Because of Bacon's criminal history, the standard range
disposition was 52 to 65 weeks of confinement.
disposition hearing, Bacon asked for a declaration of
manifest injustice, because he was doing better, back in
school, and living at home. The State and the probation
officer recommended the standard range disposition. They
argued that Bacon had done well in detention but had not done
well when on supervision or parole.
court noted that Bacon had begun to make important changes in
his life, but was still a "threat to the
community." Citing a preference to "keep youth in
the community" when possible, the court granted a
manifest injustice. The court imposed a disposition of
"65 to 65 weeks" of confinement, and suspended it,
placing him instead on community supervision subject to a
number of conditions.
State appealed the disposition, arguing that the record did
not support a declaration of manifest injustice and, even
assuming the manifest injustice was proper, declaring a
manifest injustice did not give the court the authority to
suspend the disposition when Bacon was otherwise ineligible
for a suspended disposition.
the State's appeal was pending before this court, the
juvenile court revoked Bacon's suspended disposition
because of his behavior while under community supervision. A
commissioner of this court determined that the issue of
whether the trial court had the authority to suspend a
disposition here was moot. But the commissioner nonetheless
ruled that we should address the issue because it is a matter
of continuing and substantial public interest that is likely
to recur in future cases.
the parties filed revised briefs on the sole issue of whether
the trial court erred by suspending Bacon's manifest
to Suspend Dispositions
State argues that the juvenile court erred when it suspended
Bacon's disposition because it lacked the authority to do
so under the Juvenile Justice Act of 1977 (JJA), chapter
13.40 RCW. Bacon responds that, once the court has declared a
manifest injustice, it may suspend a juvenile offender's
sentence even if it could not usually do so under the JJA. We
agree with the State.
including juvenile courts, "do not have inherent
authority to suspend sentences." State v. A.S..
116 Wn.App. 309, 311-12, 65 P.3d 676 (2003). If the
legislature has enacted a statute that grants a court the
power to suspend a disposition, the court must follow the
statute's terms. State v. Clark. 91 Wn.App. 581,
585, 958 P.2d 1028(1998). Otherwise, the court's actions
are void. Clark. 91 Wn.App. at 585.
statute is unambiguous, this court assumes the legislature
"means exactly what it says." A.S.. 116
Wn.App. at 312. This court reviews the construction of a