IN THE INTEREST OF: N.C., A MINOR APPEAL OF: N.C.
from the Dispositional Order September 7, 2016 in the Court
of Common Pleas of Clearfield County Juvenile Division at
No(s): CP-17-JV-0000071-2012 CP-17-JV-0000036-2016
BEFORE: STABILE, J., FORD ELLIOTT, P.J.E., and STRASSBURGER,
(Appellant) appeals from the dispositional
order entered on September 7, 2016, following
his adjudication of delinquency for indecent assault person
less than 13 years of age, 18 Pa.C.S. § 3126 (indecent
assault). We vacate the dispositional order and reverse the
adjudication of delinquency.
February 2012, a petition was filed alleging that then
14-year-old Appellant was a delinquent child because
Appellant touched a three-year-old in the genital area, which
constituted aggravated indecent assault (a felony) and
indecent assault (a misdemeanor). Deliquency Petition,
2/21/2012, at 1-2. In May 2012, after a contested hearing,
the juvenile court in Jefferson County determined that
Appellant had engaged in a delinquent act constituting
aggravated indecent assault. Order, 5/11/2012. Because
Appellant resided in Clearfield County, the case was
transferred to the juvenile court in Clearfield County for
adjudication and disposition. Id. In July 2012, the
juvenile court in Clearfield County adjudicated Appellant
delinquent of one count of aggravated indecent assault, and
ordered Appellant to be placed on probation for one year,
which was to run consecutively to a probation violation
disposition imposed in a separate matter. Order, 7/19/2012.
appealed the disposition to this Court, arguing that the
juvenile court erred by admitting recorded statements by the
child-victim into evidence during the adjudicatory hearing.
This Court agreed, holding that admission of the statements
violated Appellant's right to confrontation provided by
the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution. In
re N.C. , 74 A.3d 271 (Pa. Super. 2013). We vacated
Appellant's disposition and remanded for a new
adjudication, and our holding was later affirmed on appeal.
In re N.C. , 103 A.3d 1199 (Pa. 2014).
of the disposition of Appellant's probation violation,
which related to Appellant's engaging in harassment by
communication stemming from "sexting" girls at his
school, the juvenile court placed Appellant at Appalachian
Youth Services (AYS) in July 2012. Juvenile Court Opinion,
11/28/2016, at 1. While his appeal was pending, Appellant
received sexual offender treatment at AYS. Id. After
Appellant was discharged from AYS to the care of his mother,
the juvenile court ordered Appellant to attend the sexual
offender program at Project Point of Light, which he
completed on July 9, 2014. Id. at 1-2. Thus, by the
time the case was remanded, Appellant had successfully
completed two court-ordered sexual offender treatment
programs. He also completed his term of probation without
incident, graduated from high school, and was a rising
university freshman. N.T., 6/18/2016, at 4, 9.
remand, Appellant, then age 18, tendered an admission to
indecent assault, and the juvenile court in Jefferson County
accepted his admission and transferred the case to the
juvenile court in Clearfield County for adjudication and
disposition. Adjudicatory Hearing Order, 2/24/2016, at 1.
After conducting a hearing on August 18, 2016, the juvenile
court determined that Appellant was in need of treatment,
supervision, or rehabilitation, and adjudicated Appellant
delinquent of indecent assault. Adjudicatory/Dispositional
Hearing Order, 9/7/2016, at 1-2. The juvenile court rendered
its disposition at the same time, placing Appellant on
probation for one year less one day and ordering Appellant to
complete a psychosexual evaluation at Project Point of Light,
to pay court costs, and to have no contact with the victim.
Id. at 2.
filing a post-dispositional motion, which the juvenile court
denied, Appellant timely filed a notice of appeal. Both
Appellant and the juvenile court complied with Pa.R.A.P.
1925. On appeal, Appellant asks this Court to decide whether
the juvenile court abused its discretion in adjudicating
Appellant delinquent, arguing there was a lack of evidentiary
support to sustain the finding that Appellant was in need of
treatment, supervision, or rehabilitation. Appellant's
Brief at 5. Appellant also questions whether the juvenile
court subjected Appellant to unconstitutional punishment in
violation of the double jeopardy and due process clauses of
the United States and Pennsylvania Constitutions by imposing
additional and extended punishment upon him. Id.
we begin our analysis of Appellant's first issue, we must
consider whether it is moot. At oral argument, counsel for
Appellant informed the Court that Appellant underwent his
court-ordered psychosexual evaluation and was due to be
released from probation in August 2017. Nevertheless,
Appellant argued that his first issue is not moot because he
is contesting his adjudication, not his disposition, and if
this Court should rule that the juvenile court erred by
finding him to be in need of treatment, the Court is able to
enter an order that has legal effect because the appropriate
remedy would be to reverse the adjudication order.
We consider the following in determining whether a case is
As a general rule, an actual case or controversy must exist
at all stages of the judicial process, or a case will be
dismissed as moot. An issue can become moot during the
pendency of an appeal due to an intervening change in the
facts of the case or due to an intervening change in the
applicable law. … An issue before a court is moot if
in ruling upon the issue the court cannot enter an order that
has any legal force or effect.
In re R.D., 44 A.3d 657, 679-80 (Pa. Super. 2012)
agree with Appellant that his first issue is not moot for the
reasons he articulated. See In Interest of Kilianek,
378 A.2d 995, 995 (Pa. Super. 1977) (holding that
juvenile's challenge to her adjudication, which claimed
that juvenile court improperly adjudicated her delinquent
despite not meeting the legal standard for delinquency, was
not rendered moot upon her release from out-of-home
placement); In Interest of DelSignore, 375 A.2d 803,
807 (Pa. Super. 1977) (deciding juvenile's challenge
regarding sufficiency of evidence to support adjudication,
but holding objection to placement was rendered moot upon her
release from the placement); R.D., 44 A.3d at 679-80
(deciding issues relating to adjudication, but holding that
juvenile's challenge to his disposition was rendered moot
upon his release from the delinquency placement).
we turn our attention to our standard of review of
dispositional orders following delinquency adjudications in
juvenile proceedings. The Juvenile Act grants broad
discretion to juvenile courts, and we will not disturb the
lower court's disposition absent a manifest abuse of
discretion. In re C.A.G., 89 A.3d 704, 709 (Pa.
Super. 2014); In the Interest of J.D., 798 A.2d 210,
213 (Pa. Super. 2002).
entering an adjudication of delinquency, "the Juvenile
Act requires a juvenile court to find that a child has
committed a delinquent act and that the child is in
need of treatment, supervision, or rehabilitation."
Commonwealth v. M.W., 39 A.3d 958, 964 (Pa. 2012)
(emphasis in original). "A determination that a child
has committed a delinquent act does not, on its own, warrant
an adjudication of delinquency." Id. at 966.
See also In re T.L.B., 127 A.3d 813 (Pa. Super.
2015) (holding that the juvenile court did not abuse its
discretion in finding the appellee was not in need of
treatment, rehabilitation, or supervision when, by the time
of the deferred adjudication hearing, appellee ...