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Sex Offender Treatment Order Reversed On Appeal

10
Nov
2010

by in Juvenile Defense

State in the Interest of J.S., a Juvenile, ? N.J. ?, 2010 N.J. LEXIS 547 (July 8, 2010) – Order directing DYFS to provide sex offender treatment ordered for J.S. reversed.

“As a minor, J.S. sexually assaulted his younger sister. However, he was twenty-one years old when the juvenile court entered an order adjudicating him a delinquent based on the conduct that had occurred years earlier. The court’s order required the Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS), an agency within the Department of Children and Families (DCF), to provide him with sex offender treatment, notwithstanding that neither J.S. nor his family previously had any involvement with DYFS. Although not a party to J.S.’s delinquency proceedings, DYFS sought reconsideration, and then appealed…. We find nothing out of the ordinary in the juvenile court’s determination to exercise its discretion to order probation and to place that condition of probation on J.S. Placing J.S. on probation with such a condition was entirely within the court’s authority under the Code, and we so hold under N.J.S.A. 2A:4A-43(b)(3)’s express language authorizing the same. The court erred, however, in believing that the appropriate mechanism for effectuating that disposition was N.J.S.A. 2A:4A-43(b)(5)…. Here it seems apparent that the juvenile court’s authority to refer juveniles to the care and responsibility of DCF must be conditioned on DCF’s ability to provide services to the individual referred…. We are loathe to presume that by the language of N.J.S.A. 2A:4A-43(b)(5) the Legislature meant to expand, sub silentio, DCF’s statutory powers and responsibilities to persons over the age of eighteen beyond the Legislature’s express decree for DCF and DYFS…. Here it is clear that because DYFS, as the unit within DCF that was the focus of the court’s order, was not assigned responsibility for adults like J.S., aged twenty-one, who had never before had a connection with the agency, the juvenile court erred in ordering DYFS to accept responsibility for sex offender treatment for J.S. That conclusion is based on the plain language of N.J.S.A. 2A:4A-43(b)(5) and does not evidence a conflict between the Code and the statutes governing DYFS’s statutory responsibilities…. The two can and do work together, however, that working together can result in DYFS simply not being the correct vehicle for effectuating a disposition. That said, as previously noted, the juvenile court was not without power to order the disposition of probation with the condition of sex offender treatment for J.S. That disposition was available through N.J.S.A. 2A:4A-43(b)(3) and if J.S. did not have the resources, or access to resources, to pay for the treatment, the expense would fall to the county.”

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