Tim Leeds Havre Daily News email@example.com
Judge David Rice Wednesday sent two of three youths charged in state District Court to Juvenile Court under a recommendation from the Hill County Attorney’s Office, with a hearing set for December to see if the same should happen to the third. The defendants, all of whom were 17 at the time of the incident, were charged after being accused of entering the Havre Public Schools bus garage on Aug. 28 after they noticed a door was not locked, taking some items from the garage including spray paint and spraying paint on items in the garage and on Havre Public Schools property outside of the garage and at the Havre Middle School grounds. Rice said in an interview that Montana law requires that some felony charges, including burglary, must be filed in District Court if the youth is 17. The court then must schedule a hearing to determine if, by the preponderence of the evidence, the public and the youth charged would be better served if the case is remanded to juvenile court. The charge had an original estimate of more than $1,000 worth of damage from the vandalism, which resulted in the felony criminal mischief charge. Rice said later estimates of the damage reduced it to less than $1,000, making it a misdemeanor. In the arrangement with the Hill County Attorney’s Office, the two youths admitted to committing the burglary and the theft and misdemeanor criminal mischief offense, and were remanded to Juvenile Court, according to court documents. Once they finish their juvenile probation and turn 18, the juvenile records will be sealed and will not carry over into the youths’ adult files. While the exact sentence would be up to the judge, a person convicted of burglary in District Court faces a sentence of up to 20 years in prison and a $50,000 fine. The attorney for the third defendant was not able to attend the hearing Wednesday, leading his client’s hearing to be continued until December. At that time the judge will determine if that case should be remanded to Juvenile Court.