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In re J.B.

Court of Appeals of North Carolina

January 2, 2018

IN THE MATTER OF: J.B.

          Heard in the Court of Appeals 16 October 2017

         Appeal by juvenile from orders entered 16 August 2016 by Judge David H. Strickland in Mecklenburg County District Court, No. 14 JB 363.

          Attorney General Joshua H. Stein, by Assistant Attorney General Brent D. Kiziah, for the State.

          Geeta N. Kapur, for juvenile-appellant.

          CALABRIA, JUDGE.

         Where the juvenile conceded the fact that the school was an entity capable of owning property, and the State presented evidence that the school in fact owned the damaged property, the trial court did not err in denying the juvenile's motion to dismiss. Where the 10-day detention to which the trial court sentenced the juvenile, as a Level 2 offender, was for a period of confinement beyond the limits of the statute pursuant to which the juvenile was sentenced, the trial court erred in its sentence. Further, where the trial court failed to sentence the juvenile, as a Level 2 offender, to an intermediate disposition as mandated by N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-2508(d), the trial court erred in violation of a statutory mandate. We affirm in part, but remand for resentencing.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         On 24 March 2016, J.B. ("the juvenile") [1], a twelve-year-old student, was in a classroom in Lincoln Heights Academy in Charlotte, North Carolina. During the class, the juvenile became upset and agitated, and pushed a number of things including, inter alia, a computer and Hewlett Packer printer from the teacher's desk onto the floor. The computer was not damaged but the printer was damaged, and eventually replaced.

         On 3 June 2016, a juvenile petition for delinquency was filed, alleging that the juvenile had committed the offense of injury to personal property by "damag[ing] a printer and computer after pushing it off the teachers [sic] desk[.]" During the subsequent proceeding, at the close of the State's evidence, the juvenile moved to dismiss the petition. This motion was denied. The juvenile presented no evidence.

         On 16 August 2016, the juvenile was found liable for a class 2 misdemeanor, injury to personal property, and adjudicated delinquent. The trial court considered the juvenile's prior misdemeanor adjudications, and that same day, entered a disposition order, sentencing the juvenile as a Level 2 offender and ordering the juvenile to serve 10 days' detention in the custody of the Sheriff of Mecklenburg County.

         From the adjudication and disposition orders, the juvenile appeals.

         II. Motion to Dismiss

         In his first argument, the juvenile contends that the trial court erred in denying his motion to dismiss. We disagree.

         A. Standard of Review

         "This Court reviews the trial court's denial of a motion to dismiss de novo." State v. Smith, 186 N.C.App. 57, 62, 650 S.E.2d 29, 33 (2007).

         " 'Upon defendant's motion for dismissal, the question for the Court is whether there is substantial evidence (1) of each essential element of the offense charged, or of a lesser offense included therein, and (2) of defendant's being the perpetrator of such offense. If so, the motion is properly denied.' " State v. Fritsch, 351 N.C. 373, 378, 526 S.E.2d 451, 455 (quoting State v. Barnes, 334 N.C. 67, 75, 430 S.E.2d 914, 918 (1993)), cert. denied, 531 U.S. 890, 148 L.Ed.2d 150 (2000). "In reviewing challenges to the sufficiency of evidence, we must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the State, giving the State the benefit of all reasonable inferences." Id. at 378-79, 526 S.E.2d at 455.

         B. Analysis

         At trial, the State presented only one witness, Star Kelly ("Kelly"), a "teacher-assistant" at Lincoln Heights Academy, who was present in the classroom during the juvenile's outburst. At the close of the State's evidence, the juvenile moved to dismiss. Specifically, the motion to dismiss alleged that (1) there was no evidence presented that the damage caused by the juvenile exceeded $200, and (2) there ...


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