Adult Jurisdiction over Crimes Committed as a Juvenile
Commonwealth v. Armolt, 2021 WL 240523 (Pa. Super. 2021) (unreported), allocatur granted Nov. 17, 2021, appeal docket 86 MAP 2021
In 2016, when he was forty-one years old, Herman Albert Armolt, Jr. was arrested for sexual offenses that were committed in the 1980s and early 1990s and initially reported in 1996 when he was still a juvenile. Armolt was tried as an adult and was convicted of Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse, Aggravated Indecent Assault, and Indecent Assault. Armolt appealed to Superior Court on the basis that the trial court did not have jurisdiction to try him as an adult for crimes he committed as a juvenile, and that trying him as an adult violated the Equal Protection, Due Process and Cruel and Unusual Punishment clauses of the United States and Pennsylvania Constitutions. Armolt argued that because he was still a juvenile when the assaults were reported, Pennsylvania’s Juvenile Act, which defines “child” as an individual who “is under the age of 21 years who committed an act of delinquency before reaching the age of 18 years” required the Commonwealth to proceed in against him in juvenile court, and that he should not be required to serve an adult prison sentence.
Superior Court affirmed the trial court’s decision to try Armolt as an adult, concluding that Armolt, being 41 years old at the time of his arrest, does not qualify as a “child” under the Juvenile Act. The court further noted that Armolt did not identify any improper motivation for any delay in prosecution on the part of the Commonwealth. Superior Court found that Armolt waived his Equal Protection, Due Process, and Cruel and Unusual Punishment constitutional violation claims by failing “to develop any meaningful discussion in his appellate brief” to support the argument. Slip op. at 8. While the court noted that Armolt “appears to argue in his appellate brief” an ex post facto clause violation “by sentencing Appellant to an adult prison term for crimes he committed as a juvenile because he received a greater punishment that he would have received if adjudicated delinquent in juvenile court,” Superior Court found this claim was not raised before the trial court or in Armolt’s 1925(b) statement, and was likewise waived.
The Supreme Court granted allocatur to consider the following issues:
(1) Whether the trial court erred in retaining jurisdiction to try and sentence Petitioner as an adult for crimes that he committed as a juvenile.
(2) Whether the trial court erred by conferring adult jurisdiction and imposing a four to eight-year prison sentence upon an individual for crimes committed while the individual was a juvenile violated the Equal Protection, Due Process and Cruel and Unusual Punishment clauses of the United States and Pennsylvania Constitution.