Superior Court Judge Clint Bearden heard arguments Monday, March 4, on whether a 16-year-old’s sexual battery conviction should stay in Superior Court or move to Juvenile Court.
Attorney David Hoffer filed a motion Feb. 20 to transfer Jadyn Young’s case to Juvenile Court, where he argued the 16-year-old would have greater rehabilitative support.
Young was acquitted Feb. 18 on the most serious charges against him — aggravated child molestation — that could have led to life imprisonment. He was, however, convicted on two lesser charges, sexual battery, in Bearden’s courtroom. The maximum penalty on a charge of sexual battery is five years.
Assistant District Attorney Shiv Sachdeva argued before the judge Monday afternoon that with roughly a week of testimony and evidence heard in the case, Bearden would be better positioned to make a sentencing decision compared to a Juvenile Court judge.
“The trauma is still real,” Sachdeva said about the victims.
Sachdeva cited a 1996 Georgia Supreme Court case, Reynolds v. State, that had similar circumstances to Young’s case.
“Because the Superior Court had heard all of the evidence in the case, it was in the best position to impose sentence for the crime of which appellant was convicted. Therefore, it is likely that in this particular case, a transfer solely for the purpose of disposition after conviction would have done little more than impede the judicial process with procedural steps,” according to the court’s opinion regarding Reynolds.
Citing Georgia law, the Department of Juvenile Justice “shall be authorized to provide for specialized treatment for children adjudicated for delinquent acts involving sexual offenses” in lieu of commitment.
Hoffer argued the juvenile justice system produces a far lower recidivism rate compared to adults and that the community would be best served by his client getting these services.
“They’ll make sure to get him through school, that kind of stuff. They’ll stress things that are important for a kid,” Hoffer told The Times ahead of the hearing.
Because the transfer decision is pending, Northeastern Judicial Circuit District Attorney Lee Darragh declined to comment.
Bearden said he would take the arguments under advisement.