Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Addison v. State

Supreme Court of Delaware

April 18, 2019

WHITNEY ADDISON, Respondent Below, Appellant,
v.
STATE OF DELAWARE, Plaintiff Below, Appellee.

          Submitted: February 20, 2019

          Court Below: Family Court of the State of Delaware ID. No. 1803002841 (N)

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

          ORDER

          James T. Vaughn, Jr. Justice.

         On this 18th day of April 2019, upon consideration of the parties' briefs and the record on appeal, it appears that:

         (1) A Family Court commissioner found the appellant, Whitney Addison, [1] delinquent by having committed Offensive Touching. A Family Court judge affirmed the commissioner's finding. Addison appeals, her sole claim being that the State violated her right to due process by filing a delinquency petition that was defective because it failed to charge an offense and left her vulnerable to possible subsequent prosecution. She makes three arguments in support of this claim. First, she contends that the petition was defective because it failed to set forth facts that support each element of Offensive Touching. Second, she contends that the defective petition could not have been cured by a bill of particulars. Finally, she contends that the Family Court erred in holding that she waived her right to challenge the sufficiency of the petition when she waived a reading of the petition at her arraignment. We find no merit to Addison's contentions and affirm.

         (2) On March 5, 2018, Keishla Montijo was working as a credit coordinator at Lowe's hardware store in New Castle. At approximately 5:30 p.m., Addison and three others approached Montijo from behind. Addison hit her multiple times and pulled her to the floor. Montijo got up and reported the attack to the store's manager, who called the police. The store's security camera system captured the attack.

         (3) Addison was charged with being delinquent by having committed Offensive Touching. A Family Court commissioner conducted a bench trial. At the close of the State's case, Addison moved to dismiss the delinquency petition, arguing that it failed to charge an offense. The court denied the motion and held that the petition adequately charged Offensive Touching because it gave a definitive statement of the charge, the date of the offense, and the identity of the victim. After Addison testified and each side gave closing arguments, the court found Addison delinquent of Offensive Touching. Addison was sentenced to thirty days at Level V, suspended for one year of community supervision.

         (4) Addison filed a Request for Review of Commissioner's Order. She presented three objections: (1) her due process right to notice of the charge was violated by the allegedly defective petition, (2) her due process right to be protected against double jeopardy was violated by the State's petition, and (3) the Family Court erred in determining that sufficient evidence existed to justify a finding that Addison had committed Offensive Touching.

         (5) The Family Court judge affirmed the commissioner's order. As to Addison's first objection, the court held that the State's petition provided adequate notice by tracking the language of the statute and connecting it to the facts of the case. This holding effectively overruled Addison's second objection. The court explained, "The language of the charge along with the date of the offense and the name of the victim are sufficient to protect [Addison] from double jeopardy."[2] The Family Court judge also rejected Addison's third objection concerning the sufficiency of the evidence.[3]

         (6) "We review denial of a motion to dismiss [a petition alleging delinquency] for abuse of discretion."[4] Questions of law and alleged constitutional violations are reviewed de novo.[5] "To the extent the trial judge's decision is based on factual findings, we review for whether the trial judge abused his or her discretion in determining whether there was sufficient evidence to support the findings and whether those findings were clearly erroneous."[6]

         (7) Addison contends that the petition was defective because it lacked the necessary elements to support a charge of Offensive Touching and that such defect has left her vulnerable to subsequent prosecution for the same offense. She further argues that (1) a bill of particulars could not have cured the State's defective petition and (2) her waiver of a reading of the petition at her arraignment was not a waiver of her due process right to challenge the sufficiency of the petition.

         (8) For a petition to adequately charge an offense, it must include "a plain, concise and definite written statement of the essential facts constituting the offense charged." [7] This requirement serves two purposes: (1) "to put the juvenile [respondent] on full notice of what [s]he is called upon to defend" and (2) "to effectively preclude subsequent prosecution for the same offense."[8] A petition is sufficient if it fulfills these two purposes, [9] and a charging document is generally sufficient if it sets forth the offense in the words of the statute and those words themselves set forth all the elements necessary to constitute the offense. [10] However, if a petition lacks a plain statement of the elements or essential facts of the charged act of delinquency, it is defective and should be dismissed.[11]

         (9) Here, in addition to referring to the Offensive Touching statute by its statutory number and providing the street address where the offense occurred, ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.