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The juvenile code provides a specific method of dealing with children who commit crimes. The juvenile code has its own capacity provision. A child under the age of eight years who commits an act that would result in adjudication as a delinquent is a "dependent child," not a delinquent, pursuant to Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 8-201(11)(c). The juvenile code also makes special provisions for the developmentally disabled when such children are adjudicated delinquent, pursuant to Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 8-242. The juvenile code has its own separate and distinct provisions for dealing with mentally ill children in the custody of the juvenile court, pursuant to Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 8-242.01. These various provisions in the juvenile code indicate that the legislature intends to provide a different standard to be applied in juvenile cases, and the legislature does not intend for the provisions of Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 13-501 to apply to juvenile proceedings.
Benjamin Ashley Gammons, a thirteen year old, was arrested on February 17, 1984 for sexual abuse and sexual conduct with a minor. He was charged by a petition filed in juvenile court with delinquency for his alleged act in the sexual abuse and sexual conduct incident. During trial review, Gammons denied the allegations of the petition and, through counsel, requested a hearing to determine his legal capacity to understand the wrongfulness of his conduct pursuant to A.R.S. § 13-501. The State opposed the request for a hearing on the grounds that A.R.S. § 13-501 is inapplicable to delinquency proceedings. The Judge Pro Tempore assigned to the case by the Pima County Juvenile Court ruled that A.R.S. § 13-501 was not applicable to delinquency proceedings. Gammons sought relief from the ruling by a special action filed
Were the provisions of A.R.S. § 13-501 in the criminal code applicable to delinquency proceedings in juvenile court?
The court denied the relief. The court held that the definition of delinquent acts in the juvenile code had not included the capacity limitation of the criminal code. Thus, the court held the legislature had not intended § 13-501 to apply to juvenile proceedings.