Thursday, June 28, 2012 | 5:35 p.m.
A 17-year-old juvenile who commits a felony but isn't identified as the suspect until he is 21 years old or older must be tried as an adult, says the Nevada Supreme Court.
The court clarified whether the juvenile or district court has jurisdiction when an individual from 16 to 18 years old commits a major felony. And it rejected the appeal of one juvenile that he was "home free" from any court because of the confusion.
District courts in Clark County had made rulings in two cases involving 17-year-olds who committed offenses that are considered a felony if committed by an adult.
Gregory D. Barren is accused of kidnapping and sexually assaulting a woman in 2005 when he was 17 years old. He was identified as the suspect after he reached 21, and felony charges were filed.
The case bounced among juvenile, justice and district courts.
The court, in its decision, said, "We conclude that jurisdiction in this case is determined on the date when the state initiated proceedings against Barren rather than the date when Barren allegedly committed the offenses."
The court, in the decision written by Justice James Hardesty, overturned the ruling of District Judge Lee Gates who ordered the justice court to dismiss the charges against Barren because it lacked jurisdiction.
This law on juveniles went into effect in October 2009 after Barren had allegedly committed the offenses in 2005. Barren argued the law could not be applied retroactively.
But the court said the law "applied to offenses that had already been committed, divesting a juvenile court of jurisdiction "if the person was at least 16 years of age but less than 18 years of age, when the offense was committed."
In the second case, 17-year-old George J. allegedly broke into a home, committed grand larceny and car theft in January 2007 in Las Vegas. In this case, District Judge William Voy ruled the suspect could be tried as an adult.
George, who turned 21 in June 2010, was served with an arrest warrant in August while he was in custody on other charges.
The court said juvenile courts are limited to "delinquent acts" and the felonies are to be treated in adult court.
The decision, also written by Hardesty, said, "Under these circumstances, the charged acts are not delinquent acts and are therefore not within the juvenile court's jurisdiction."