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Law School Case Brief

Breed v. Jones - 421 U.S. 519, 95 S. Ct. 1779 (1975)

Rule:

Jeopardy attaches when the accused is put to trial before the trier of the facts, that is, when the juvenile court, as the trier of the facts, begins to hear evidence.

Facts:

A petition was filed in the Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles Juvenile Court, alleging that a 17-year-old had committed acts which, if committed by an adult, would constitute the crime of robbery under state law, and in a subsequent jurisdictional or adjudicatory hearing, the Juvenile Court found that the allegations of the petition were true. At a dispositional hearing which followed, however, the Juvenile Court determined that the youth was unfit for treatment as a juvenile, and ordered that he be prosecuted as an adult. The youth was tried as an adult in Superior Court and found guilty of robbery. The youth's subsequent petition for writ of habeas corpus in the United States District Court for the Central District of California was denied, notwithstanding the youth's contention that his transfer to adult court for trial placed him in double jeopardy, but the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed, holding that the double jeopardy clause was fully applicable to juvenile court proceedings.

Issue:

Did the double jeopardy clause apply to juvenile court proceedings?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

The Court held that the double jeopardy clause applied to juvenile court proceedings, and that the double jeopardy clause barred the prosecution of a juvenile as an adult for conduct that had already resulted in juvenile court adjudication. According to the Court, the prosecution of respondent juvenile in Superior Court, after an adjudicatory proceeding in Juvenile Court, violated the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment, as applied to the States through the Fourteenth Amendment.

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