State of Utah, in the interest of S.K.A, a person under eighteen years of age.
State of Utah, Appellee. S.K.A., Appellant,
District Juvenile Court, West Jordan Department The Honorable
Elizabeth A. Lindsley No. 1032415
Maio and David L. Johnson, Attorneys for Appellant.
D. Reyes and Jeffrey S. Gray, Attorneys for Appellee.
MICHELE M. CHRISTIANSEN authored this Memorandum Decision, in
which JUDGES STEPHEN L. ROTH and JILL M. POHLMAN concurred.
S.K.A. appeals the juvenile court's dispositional order,
which included suspended jail time. We affirm.
In April 2015, when S.K.A. was seventeen years old, the State
filed a delinquency petition in the juvenile court alleging
that S.K.A. had committed assault, an offense that would be a
class B misdemeanor if committed by an adult. See
Utah Code Ann. § 76-5-102(1), (2) (LexisNexis 2012). The
State later alleged that S.K.A. was in contempt of court for
failing to appear at a hearing related to the assault, and
the juvenile court issued a warrant for S.K.A.'s
At a pretrial hearing held in October 2015, after S.K.A. had
turned eighteen, he admitted to the assault, and the court
dismissed the contempt allegation. At the hearing, a Utah
Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS) representative
remarked that given S.K.A.'s age, history, and nature,
S.K.A. "would probably be best served through
[DCFS's] aftercare" program "rather than [by] .
. . remaining in [DCFS] custody." S.K.A.'s probation
officer remarked that S.K.A. "was gone [from his home
placement] for two to three months" and that he
"[c]learly . . . does not want to be in State custody
anymore." She expressed concern that "keeping him
in custody is just going to maybe make him run some more or
just fly under the radar." She further observed that
S.K.A. "owe[d] a lot of community service hours"
and asked "that those be converted to a fine, and a fine
on [the assault offense] as well as restitution to be taken
under advisement." The guardian ad litem stated that
S.K.A. "want[ed] to be released from DCFS's
custody" and that he was "not interested in any of
the support that being in state custody can offer him."
Finally, S.K.A.'s attorney commented that S.K.A.
"really isn't interested in any help from DCFS. He
would like to be terminated. His plan is to return to his
father's home, if the Court, indeed, terminates DCFS
custody." S.K.A.'s attorney further stated, "We
don't believe-because this allegation happened when
[S.K.A.] was under the age of 18, we don't believe the
court has the authority . . . to order jail as a
The juvenile court ultimately released S.K.A. from DCFS
custody; converted S.K.A.'s ninety-nine remaining
community service hours into a $495 fine; fined S.K.A. an
additional $325 for the assault; and sentenced S.K.A. to ten
days in the Salt Lake County Jail, "suspended upon
compliance with court orders." S.K.A. appeals.
S.K.A. contends that the juvenile court "erred in
concluding that the Salt Lake County Jail constitutes an
'alternative to detention' under Utah Code section
78A-6-117(2)(f)." "Whether a juvenile court
properly interpreted a statute presents a question of law
that we review for correctness." In re O.P.,
2016 UT App 181, ¶ 5, 380 P.3d 69 (citation and internal
quotation marks omitted).
Utah Code section 78A-6-117 states, in relevant part:
"The court may commit a minor to a place of detention or
an alternative to detention for a period not to exceed 30
days subject to the court retaining continuing jurisdiction
over the minor. This commitment may be stayed or suspended
upon conditions ordered by the court." Utah Code Ann. § 78A-6-117(2)(f)(i)
(LexisNexis 2012). Thus, pursuant to section 78A-6-117, the
juvenile court was permitted to commit S.K.A. to either
"a place of detention or an alternative to
detention." See id.
The question, then, is whether adult jail constitutes either
"a place of detention or an alternative to
detention." See id. This court recently
resolved this exact question in In re O.P., 2016 UT
In that case, we concluded that under the relevant statutory
provisions, an adult jail cannot be considered "a place
The Juvenile Court Act defines detention, in part, as
"secure detention as defined in Section 62A-7-101 for
the temporary care of a minor who requires secure custody in
a physically restricting facility." "Secure
detention, " as defined by section 62A-7-101, requires
"a facility operated by or under contract with the
division [of Juvenile ...