2000 Regular Session
To: Juvenile Justice
By: Representatives Robertson, Formby, Ishee, Mayo, Roberson
House Bill 471
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 43-21-105, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REVISE THE DEFINITION OF CHILD AND YOUTH FOR FELONY PURPOSES; TO AMEND SECTIONS 43-21-151 AND 43-21-621, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REVISE OFFENSES FOR WHICH A JUVENILE MAY BE TRIED AS AN ADULT; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 43-21-105, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
43-21-105. The following words and phrases, for purposes of this chapter, shall have the meanings ascribed herein unless the context clearly otherwise requires:
(a) "Youth court" means the Youth Court Division.
(b) "Judge" means the judge of the Youth Court Division.
(c) "Designee" means any person that the judge appoints to perform a duty which this chapter requires to be done by the judge or his designee. The judge may not appoint a person who is involved in law enforcement to be his designee.
(d) "Child" and "youth" are synonymous, and each means a person who has not reached his eighteenth birthday. A child who has not reached his eighteenth birthday and is on active duty for a branch of the armed services or is married is not considered a "child" or "youth" for the purposes of this chapter. Any child aged seventeen (17) years or older who is charged with a felony shall not be considered a child or youth for purposes of this chapter.
(e) "Parent" means the father or mother to whom the child has been born, or the father or mother by whom the child has been legally adopted.
(f) "Guardian" means a court-appointed guardian of the person of a child.
(g) "Custodian" means any person having the present care or custody of a child whether such person be a parent or otherwise.
(h) "Legal custodian" means a court-appointed custodian of the child.
(i) "Delinquent child" means a child who has reached his tenth birthday and who has committed a delinquent act or, while being required to attend an alternative school program provided under Section 37-13-92, willfully and habitually absents himself therefrom.
(j) "Delinquent act" is any act, which if committed by an adult, is designated as a crime under state or federal law, or municipal or county ordinance other than offenses punishable by life imprisonment or death. A delinquent act includes escape from lawful detention and violations of the Mississippi School Compulsory Attendance Law, violations of the Uniform Controlled Substances Law and violent behavior.
(k) "Child in need of supervision" means a child who has reached his seventh birthday and is in need of treatment or rehabilitation because the child:
(i) Is habitually disobedient of reasonable and lawful commands of his parent, guardian or custodian and is ungovernable; or
(ii) While being required to attend school, willfully and habitually violates the rules thereof or willfully and habitually absents himself therefrom; or
(iii) Runs away from home without good cause; or
(iv) Has committed a delinquent act or acts.
(l) "Neglected child" means a child:
(i) Whose parent, guardian or custodian or any person responsible for his care or support, neglects or refuses, when able so to do, to provide for him proper and necessary care or support, or education as required by law, or medical, surgical, or other care necessary for his well-being; provided, however, a parent who withholds medical treatment from any child who in good faith is under treatment by spiritual means alone through prayer in accordance with the tenets and practices of a recognized church or religious denomination by a duly accredited practitioner thereof shall not, for that reason alone, be considered to be neglectful under any provision of this chapter; or
(ii) Who is otherwise without proper care, custody, supervision or support; or
(iii) Who, for any reason, lacks the special care made necessary for him by reason of his mental condition, whether said mental condition be mentally retarded or mentally ill; or
(iv) Who, for any reason, lacks the care necessary for his health, morals or well-being.
(m) "Abused child" means a child whose parent, guardian or custodian or any person responsible for his care or support, whether legally obligated to do so or not, has caused or allowed to be caused upon said child sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, emotional abuse, mental injury, nonaccidental physical injury or other maltreatment. Provided, however, that physical discipline, including spanking, performed on a child by a parent, guardian or custodian in a reasonable manner shall not be deemed abuse under this section.
(n) "Sexual Abuse" means obscene or pornographic photographing, filming or depiction of children for commercial purposes, or the rape, molestation, incest, prostitution or other such forms of sexual exploitation of children under circumstances which indicate that the child's health or welfare is harmed or threatened.
(o) "A child in need of special care" means a child with any mental or physical illness that cannot be treated with the dispositional alternatives ordinarily available to the youth court.
(p) A "dependent child" means any child who is not a child in need of supervision, a delinquent child, an abused child or a neglected child, and which child has been voluntarily placed in the custody of the Department of Human Services by his parent, guardian or custodian.
(q) "Custody" means the physical possession of the child by any person.
(r) "Legal custody" means the legal status created by a court order which gives the legal custodian the responsibilities of physical possession of the child and the duty to provide him with food, shelter, education and reasonable medical care, all subject to residual rights and responsibilities of the parent or guardian of the person.
(s) "Detention" means the care of children in physically restrictive facilities.
(t) "Shelter" means care of children in physically nonrestrictive facilities.
(u) "Records involving children" means any of the following from which the child can be identified:
(i) All youth court records as defined in Section 43-21-251;
(ii) All social records as defined in Section 43-21-253;
(iii) All law enforcement records as defined in Section 43-21-255;
(iv) All agency records as defined in Section 43-21-257; and
(v) All other documents maintained by any representative of the state, county, municipality or other public agency insofar as they relate to the apprehension, custody, adjudication or disposition of a child who is the subject of a youth court cause.
(v) "Any person responsible for care or support" means the person who is providing for the child at a given time. This term shall include, but is not limited to, stepparents, foster parents, relatives, nonlicensed babysitters or other similar persons responsible for a child and staff of residential care facilities and group homes that are licensed by the Department of Human Services.
(w) The singular includes the plural, the plural the singular and the masculine the feminine when consistent with the intent of this chapter.
(x) "Out-of-home" setting means the temporary supervision or care of children by the staff of licensed day care centers, the staff of public, private and state schools, the staff of juvenile detention facilities, the staff of unlicensed residential care facilities and group homes and the staff of, or individuals representing, churches, civic or social organizations.
(y) "Durable legal custody" means the legal status created by a court order which gives the durable legal custodian the responsibilities of physical possession of the child and the duty to provide him with care, nurture, welfare, food, shelter, education and reasonable medical care. All these duties as enumerated are subject to the residual rights and responsibilities of the natural parent(s) or guardian(s) of the child or children.
SECTION 2. Section 43-21-151, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
43-21-151. (1) The youth court shall have exclusive original jurisdiction in all proceedings concerning a delinquent child, a child in need of supervision, a neglected child, an abused child or a dependent child except in the following circumstances:
(a) Any act attempted or committed by a child, which if committed by an adult would be punishable under state or federal law by life imprisonment or death, will be in the original jurisdiction of the circuit court;
(b) Any act attempted or committed by a child with the use of a deadly weapon, the carrying of which concealed is prohibited by Section 97-37-1, or a shotgun or a rifle, which would be a felony if committed by an adult, will be in the original jurisdiction of the circuit court; * * *
(c) Any act attempted or committed by a child through the use of threats or intimidation to inflict some injury to a person's person or property or to the person of any member of his family or relative; and
(d) When a charge of abuse of a child first arises in the course of a custody action between the parents of the child already pending in the chancery court and no notice of such abuse was provided prior to such chancery proceedings, the chancery court may proceed with the investigation, hearing and determination of such abuse charge as a part of its hearing and determination of the custody issue as between the parents, notwithstanding the other provisions of the Youth Court Law. The proceedings in chancery court on the abuse charge shall be confidential in the same manner as provided in youth court proceedings.
When a child is expelled from the public schools, the youth court shall be notified of the act of expulsion and the act or acts constituting the basis for expulsion.
(2) Jurisdiction of the child in the cause shall attach at the time of the offense and shall continue thereafter for that offense until the child's twentieth birthday, unless sooner terminated by order of the youth court. The youth court shall not have jurisdiction over offenses committed by a child on or after his eighteenth birthday, or over offenses committed by a child on or after his seventeenth birthday where such offenses would be a felony if committed by an adult.
(3) No child who has not reached his thirteenth birthday shall be held criminally responsible or criminally prosecuted for a misdemeanor or felony; however, the parent, guardian or custodian of such child may be civilly liable for any criminal acts of such child. No child under the jurisdiction of the youth court shall be held criminally responsible or criminally prosecuted by any court for any act designated as a delinquent act, unless jurisdiction is transferred to another court under Section 43-21-157.
(4) The youth court shall also have jurisdiction of offenses committed by a child which have been transferred to the youth court by an order of a circuit court of this state having original jurisdiction of the offense, as provided by Section 43-21-159.
(5) The youth court shall regulate and approve the use of teen court as provided in Section 43-21-753.
SECTION 3. Section 43-21-621, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
43-21-621. (1) The youth court may, in compliance with the laws governing education of children, order any state-supported public school in its jurisdiction after notice and hearing to enroll or reenroll any compulsory-school-age child in school, and further order appropriate educational services. Provided, however, that the youth court shall not order the enrollment or reenrollment of a student that has been suspended or expelled by a public school pursuant to Section 37-9-71 or 37-7-301 for possession of a weapon on school grounds, for an offense involving a threat to the safety of other persons or for the commission of a violent act. For the purpose of this section "violent act" means any action which results in death or physical harm to another or an attempt to cause death or physical harm to another. The superintendent of the school district to which such child is ordered may, in his discretion, assign such child to the alternative school program of such school established pursuant to Section 37-13-92, Mississippi Code of 1972. The court shall have jurisdiction to enforce school and education laws. Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect the attendance of a child in a legitimate home instruction program.
(2) The youth court may specify the following conditions of probation related to any juvenile ordered to enroll or reenroll in school: That the juvenile maintain passing grades in up to four (4) courses during each grading period and meet with the court counselor and a representative of the school to make a plan for how to maintain those passing grades.
(3) If the adjudication of delinquency was for an offense involving a threat to the safety of the juvenile or others and school attendance is a condition of probation and the threat did not require the child to be tried in the criminal court as provided in Section 43-21-151, the youth court judge shall make a finding that the principal of the juvenile's school should be notified. If the judge orders that the principal be notified, the youth court counselor shall within five (5) days or before the juvenile begins to attend school, whichever occurs first, notify the principal of the juvenile's school in writing of the nature of the offense and the probation requirements related to school attendance. A principal notified by a juvenile court counselor shall handle the report according to the guidelines and rules adopted by the State Board of Education.
(4) The Administrative Office of the Courts shall report to the Legislature on the number of juveniles reported to principals in accordance with this section no later than January 1, 1996.
SECTION 4. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2000.