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People v. Dennel Jr.

2022 COA 115. No. 19CA1007. Children’s Code—Juvenile Court—Juvenile Transfer Statute—Delinquency—Transfers to Criminal Court.

October 6, 2022

Dennel was charged in juvenile court with committing a delinquent act that if committed by an adult would constitute second degree murder, a class 2 felony. On the alleged offense date, Dennel was 15 years old and had no prior felony adjudications or convictions. The People moved to transfer Dennel’s case to criminal court, and after a contested hearing, the juvenile court waived its jurisdiction and transferred the case to district court for adult criminal proceedings. Dennel then pleaded guilty to manslaughter, a class 4 felony, and was sentenced as an adult.

On appeal, Dennel argued that the juvenile court erred in transferring his case to the district court. Relying on People v. Nelson, 2015 COA 123, he contended that a child his age must have a prior felony adjudication for his case to be eligible for transfer under the juvenile transfer statute of the Children’s Code. The Court of Appeals questioned the Nelson division’s interpretation of the transfer statute. Turning to the plain meaning of the statute, the Court concluded that transfer eligibility for juveniles aged 14 and older is not conditioned on a previous delinquency adjudication. Transfer eligibility is met if the petition alleges that the juvenile committed a delinquent act that constitutes a felony. Because those conditions were met here, Dennel was eligible for transfer and the juvenile court did not err.

The judgment was affirmed.

Official Colorado Court of Appeals proceedings can be found at the Colorado Court of Appeals website.

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