IN THE INTEREST OF: J.J.M., A MINOR APPEAL OF: J.J.M., A MINOR
from the Dispositional Order Entered May 14, 2018 In the
Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County Juvenile Division at
BEFORE: BOWES, J., DUBOW, J., and MUSMANNO, J.
appeals from the dispositional order entered following his
delinquency adjudication for terroristic threats. We affirm.
time of the events in question, Appellant was a
fifteen-year-old student at West Side Career and Technology
Center, a vocational high school in Luzerne County,
Pennsylvania. The juvenile court summarized the testimony
offered at the adjudication hearing arising from those events
M.W., a fifteen-year-old student at West Side C.T.C.
testified that on February 20, 2018 she was in school and is
familiar with [Appellant]. M.W. identified [Appellant] for
the record and related that they have several classes
together. She testified that she heard [Appellant] make
statements regarding "things in reference to death and
such," in the hallway, between classes and she was
within two to three feet of him at the time the statements
M.W. further testified that [Appellant] stated "he
wanted to beat the record of 19." She testified he was
either talking to someone or just said it and it was not
directly said to her. She then notified school administrators
Mr. Rava and Mr. Paulauskas. She further testified she went
to the school authorities "because it was concerning due
to past statements. I felt it needed to be taken
When asked on cross-examination if she felt that she needed
to talk to [Appellant] to ask what he meant by the statement
she replied "no, I felt it was unneeded." She
stated the statements concerned her because he's shown
signs of possibly being violent.
The Commonwealth next called K.S. a fourteen-year-old student
at West Side C.T.C. K.S. testified that she was in school on
February 20, 2018 and did not have any conversations with
[Appellant] that day. She stated she did have conversations
with him a few weeks before.
K.S. testified [Appellant] said "he doesn't think
people deserve to live and everyone should just die."
She went to school administrator Mr. Paulauskas and reported
K.S. testified that she did not immediately report the
statement to school administration however, a few weeks later
after she heard other statements he made, she then spoke up
about it because it was a serious problem. She stated "I
was scared, like, I was nervous. I was scared because I
didn't know what was going to happen. There was
previously school shootings like you never know. I spoke with
Mr. Paulauskas and Mr. Rava, I approached them because my
friends approached me about him saying he was going to beat
the record. She stated she was concerned and reported this
information to school personnel and believed [Appellant] was
then suspended from school. He was no longer at school."
K.S. further testified about previous statements that she
heard coming out of J.M's mouth that worried her. She
stated the statement that she heard was "that he thought
people should die, people like shouldn't live. That's
what I heard myself." She further related that other
people told her about other statements he had made.
On cross-examination K.S. was asked if she was generally
uneasy and anxious because of matters recently reported in
the news. She testified "yes, I was uneasy and anxious
because there had recently been school shootings."
Richard Rava, Administrator of West Side [C.T.C.] testified.
He indicated he is the Assistant Director/Principal. He is
familiar with [Appellant]. When asked if action was taken by
the school regarding [Appellant]'s conduct, Mr. Rava
testified that [Appellant] was expelled from school.
Juvenile Court Opinion, 7/16/18, at 2-4 (some punctuation
corrected; citations omitted).
this evidence, a juvenile hearing officer adjudicated
Appellant delinquent of terroristic threats. Appellant
challenged the hearing officer's recommendation, and the
juvenile court scheduled a de novo hearing. The
parties stipulated to the introduction of the prior testimony
at that hearing to inform the court's determination. On
May 14, 2018, the juvenile court adjudicated Appellant
delinquent of terroristic threats under 18 Pa.C.S. §
2607(a)(3), and provided that the disposition order drafted
by the hearing officer remain in effect. That order,
inter alia, placed Appellant on probation, required
that he comply with mental health recommendations, and
prohibited Appellant from having any contact with weapons.
Appellant filed a timely post-dispositional motion, which was
denied by order of July 16, 2018. Appellant thereafter filed
a timely notice of appeal.
presents the following questions for this Court's review:
1. Whether the Commonwealth presented sufficient evidence to
conclude that [Appellant] violated 18 Pa.C.S.A. §
2. Whether the terroristic threats statute violates
[Appellant's] 1st Amendment right under the
United States Constitution to free speech?
3. Whether the terroristic threats statute is
unconstitutional and, as applied, in violation of
[Appellant's] due process rights under the 5th
and 14th Amendments of the United States
Appellant's brief at 2.
begin with the law applicable to Appellant's contention
that the evidence offered by the Commonwealth is insufficient
to sustain his adjudication. "In a juvenile proceeding,
the hearing judge sits as the finder of fact." In re
L.A., 853 A.2d 388, 391 (Pa.Super. 2004). "The
weight to be assigned the testimony of the witnesses is
within the exclusive province of the fact finder."
When considering a challenge to the sufficiency of the
evidence following an adjudication of delinquency, we must
review the entire record and view the evidence in the light
most favorable to the Commonwealth.
In determining whether the Commonwealth presented sufficient
evidence to meet its burden of proof, the test to be applied
is whether, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable
to the Commonwealth and drawing all reasonable inferences
therefrom, there is sufficient evidence to find every element
of the crime charged. The Commonwealth may sustain its burden