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Faulkner v. State

Supreme Court of Delaware

December 4, 2017

KALEN FAULKNER, Petitioner Below, Appellant,
v.
STATE OF DELAWARE, Respondent Below, Appellee.

          Submitted: November 1, 2017

         Court Below: Family Court of the State of Delaware, in and for New Castle County Case Nos.: 0901019655 0705003072 0705020335 CPI No.: 17-06102

          Before STRINE, Chief Justice; VALIHURA and VAUGHN, Justices.

          ORDER

          JAMES T. VAUGHN, JR. JUSTICE

         On this 4th day of December 2017, upon consideration of the parties' briefs and the record on appeal, it appears to the Court that:

         (1) Appellant, Kalen Faulkner, petitioned the Family Court for expungement of his juvenile criminal history. The Family Court denied his petition in a decision issued on April 25, 2017. He makes three claims on appeal. He first contends that he is eligible for expungement under an amendment to 10 Del. C. § 1018 which became effective on June 20, 2017. The Family Court did not consider the amendment because it was not adopted until after the Family Court issued its decision and after this appeal was filed. He nonetheless argues that we should consider and grant expungement of his juvenile criminal history under the amended statute in the interest of justice. He next contends that the Family Court erred in finding him ineligible for expungement. In order to be eligible for expungement, Faulkner could not have more than two cases in his history. The Family Court concluded that he had three cases. He contends that he had only two cases. His third contention is that the statutory definition of "case" is ambiguous and the Family Court erred by not giving the word "case" a broad definition that would further the statutory purpose of expungement. We find no merit to any of his claims and affirm.

         (2) We will not consider Faulkner's first claim because it is based on a statutory amendment that was not adopted until after the Family Court had decided the case. If Faulkner wishes to have expungement considered under the new statute, his remedy is to file a new petition for expungement in the Family Court.

         (3) Turning to his second claim, the Family Court determined that Faulkner had the following juvenile criminal history. First, on May 3, 2007, he was charged with two counts of Rape Fourth Degree and two counts of Unlawful Sexual Contact Second Degree. These charges involved victim E.C. in relation to conduct alleged to have occurred in December 2006.

         (4) Next, on June 7, 2007, he was charged with three counts of Unlawful Sexual Contact Second Degree. These charges involved victim T.W. in relation to conduct alleged to have occurred in November 2006. The incidents with E.C. and T.W. were alleged to have occurred while Faulkner was riding on a school bus with each victim.

         (5) On May 12, 2008, Faulkner pled guilty to and was adjudicated delinquent of one count of Offensive Touching and one count of Sexual Harassment in the E.C. matter and one count of Offensive Touching and one count of Sexual Harassment in the T.W. matter. This gave him a total of four adjudications from the 2006 incidents.

         (6) Finally, on January 26, 2009, Faulkner was charged with one count of Unlawful Sexual Contact Second Degree. The charge involved allegations he inappropriately touched a child during a New Year's Eve party. On February 17, 2009, Faulkner was adjudicated delinquent on this charge.

         (7) Faulkner has not been charged with any subsequent offenses since the 2009 matter. His petition for expungement was filed on March 1, 2017.

         (8) Faulkner sought expungement under 10 Del. C. § 1018(a)(6), which at that time provided that a person was eligible for expungement upon a showing of "[n]o more than two cases which resulted in adjudications of delinquency, where one of the cases involve[d] a misdemeanor . . . adjudication and the other involve[d] a violent felony adjudication, and at least 7 years ha[d] passed since the second adjudication."[1] Faulkner argued that the four adjudications arising from the two 2006 incidents were one case because the incidents occurred less than a month apart, involved the same kind of behavior in the same location, and were disposed of on the same day in one plea agreement. The State argued in response that the four adjudications were two "cases" because they were the result of two different incidents and two different victims, and have separate case numbers. If the 2006 incidents were one "case, " Faulkner would be eligible for expungement under 10 Del. C. § 1018(a)(6) because the two 2006 incidents were misdemeanors, the Unlawful Contact Second Degree adjudication was a violent felony, and more than seven years had passed since the last adjudication.

         (9) 10 Del. C. ยง 1016(3) defines "case" as "a charge or set of charges related to a complaint or incident that are or could be properly ...


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