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Alcohol Education Program Vs. Youthful Offender Program

MEMORANDUM OF LAW Alcohol Education Program (AEP) Vs. Youthful Offender Program (YO)

On December 17, 2004, A Boy was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol in violation of Conn. Gen. Stat. § 14-227a. At the time of his arrest, The Boy was seventeen years old. The Boy has applied for examination to determine youthful offender status. The State objects on the basis that The Boy must apply to the pretrial alcohol education program and is not eligible for youthful offender status.

Conn. Gen. Stat. § 54-76b defines a “youthful offender” as a person between 16 and 18 who is

  1. charged with the commission of a crime which is not a class A felony or a violation of subdivision (2) of section 53-21, section 53a-70, 53a-70b, 53a-71, 53a-72a or 53a-72b;
  2. has not previously been convicted of a felony or been previously adjudged a serious juvenile offender or serious juvenile repeat offender, as defined in section 46b-120, or a youthful offender, or been afforded a pretrial program for accelerated rehabilitation under section 54-56e, and
  3. is adjudged a youthful offender pursuant to the provisions of sections 54-76b to 54-76n.

Although The Boy has been charged with a “crime” – violating Conn. Gen. Stat. § 14-227a, The Boy hasn’t been charged with any of the prohibitory statutes listed in item 1. Thus, The Boy meets the requirements of Item 1.

The Boy has never been adjudged a serious juvenile offender, a youthful offender, or applied for accelerated rehabilitation. The Boy also meets the requirements of item 2.

The court determines item 3, whether youthful offender status is granted. “Upon the termination of such examinations, investigation and questioning, the court, in its discretion based on the severity of the crime, which shall also take into consideration whether or not the defendant took advantage of the victim because of the victim’s advanced age or physical incapacity, and the results of the examinations, investigation and questioning, shall determine whether such defendant is eligible to be adjudged a youthful offender.” Conn. Gen. Stat. § 54-76d(b). All of the cases cited under this statute indicate the court determined the applicants’ crimes were too severe. See, e.g., State v. Sher, 188 Conn. 565, 452 A.2d 115 (1982); State v. Bell, 179 Conn. 98, 425 A.2d 574 (1979). Interestingly, there appear to be no cases where the court said the crime wasn’t severe enough to warrant youthful offender status.

Nothing in the youthful offender statutes excludes youths charged with violating Conn. Gen. Stat. § 14-227a from youthful offender status.

Conversely, there is nothing in Conn. Gen. Stat. §54-56g, the pretrial alcohol education system, that states that it is the only alternative remedy for persons between sixteen and eighteen who are charged with violating §14-227a.

Thus, there is nothing in the operative statutes that require an accused to file an application for the pretrial alcohol education program instead of an application for investigation of youthful offender status.

The Connecticut State Legislature enacted into law Public Act 03-154, effective October 1, 2003 which explicitly provides:

The meaning of a statute shall, in the first instance, be ascertained from the text of the statute itself and its relationship to other statutes. If, after examining such text and considering such relationship, the meaning of such text is plain and unambiguous and does not yield absurd or unworkable results, extratextual evidence of the meaning of the statute shall not be considered.

The language of the youthful offender statutes and alcohol pretrial education statutes is clear and unambiguous. The statutes do not explicitly — or even implicitly — prohibit youthful offender status for 14-227a violators.

Had the legislature intended to prohibit youthful offender status for 14-227a violations, it easily could have done so. It already lists a number of offenses for which youthful offender status may not be granted. It clearly exempts those who have had the opportunity for accelerated rehabilitation for applying for youthful offender status. The accelerated rehabilitation statute, Conn. Gen. Stat. §54-56g precludes youthful offenders and violators of Conn. Gen. Stat. § 14-227a from the accelerated rehabilitation program. The legislature knows how to exclude certain persons and its failure to exclude youths charged with violating § 14-227a indicates its intention that such youths be afforded the opportunity to apply for youthful offender status.

Although there is no case directly on point, there is one superior court case where it appears the individual may have been granted youthful offender status for a Conn. Gen. Stat. § 14-227a charge. In Smith v. New Milford Hospital, Inc., 2001 WL 950902 (copy attached), in a case alleging invasion of privacy the following facts were alleged: the plaintiff implicitly consented to blood alcohol testing by operating a motor vehicle, the implied consent statute, General Statutes § 14-227b, did not give a hospital the right to disclose confidential information to the police, and therefore confidentiality rights resulting from a youthful offender status have been violated. This strongly suggests that a person between the ages of sixteen and eighteen years of age chose to apply for, and was granted, youthful offender status for a 14-227a charge.

In summary then, the youthful offender statutes are clear on the requirements of who may apply for youthful offender status. The failure to exclude youthful violators of §14-227a indicates legislative intent to include them. The Boy’s application for examination to determine youthful offender status should be granted.

STEVEN TOMEO, ESQ.

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