This case involves two 17-year-old children, William and Marques, whose cases were moved from juvenile court to criminal court under the provisions of Nevada’s certification statute. Under Nevada law, juveniles charged with crimes that involve firearms are subject to a presumption of certification to criminal court with an opportunity to present mitigating factors to rebut the presumption. However, to rebut the presumption, Nevada law requires a juvenile defendant to show by “clear and convincing evidence” that emotional, behavioral, or substance abuse problems substantially contributed to the commission of the alleged crime.
The Nevada Supreme Court invited the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada (ACLUN) and the National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC) to submit amicus briefs addressing the constitutionality of Nevada’s transfer statute. Juvenile Law Center joined ACLUN in co-authoring their brief, which argues that the statute should be struck because it violates children’s rights to due process and against self-incrimination based on the fundamentally unfair procedural requirement that children admit guilt in order to rebut the presumption of certification to adult court.
In a unanimous ruling, the Nevada Supreme Court struck the state’s presumptive certification provision as violative of juveniles’ rights against self-incrimination under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.