SJC – Adult Interstate Compact Case with a Juvenile Twist

An important case came out Monday that concerns when Massachusetts supervises a probationer from another state.  The case is Coe v. Commissioner of Probation

The defendant, who was 14 years old at the time of the offense, was convicted as an adult in Connecticut of sexual assault in the third degree and risk of injury to a minor.  His probation was transferred from Connecticut to Massachusetts pursuant to the Interstate Compact for Adult Offender Supervision.   The issues in the case involved, among other issues,  what the appropriate forum was to challenge the probation conditions and whether it was appropriate for the Massachusetts probation department to add mandatory GPS monitoring under G.L. c. 265, § 47 as a special condition.  The SJC held “where a probationer whose supervision is transferred to Massachusetts under the Interstate Compact for Adult Offender Supervision (compact) contends that a special condition of probation that was added by Massachusetts is not mandated by Massachusetts law or is unconstitutional, this determination is appropriately made by a Massachusetts court, and the appropriate mechanism to obtain such a determination is through a complaint for declaratory relief.”  Because the defendant, if he were tried in Massachusetts, would have only been subject to a delinquency adjudication and, therefore,  not subject to the mandatory provisions of  G. L. c. 265, § 47 (the SJC discusses in a footnote why the charge is not YO eligible in that the offense did not involve the infliction or threat of serious bodily harm and the defendant had not previously been committed to DYS) the Court also concluded “that the Massachusetts probation department may not add mandatory GPS monitoring under G. L. c. 265, § 47, as a special condition of probation for this probationer.”

 

Also, of interest to juvenile defenders is the Courts rejection of the commissioner of probation’s assertion that the mandatory provisions of § 47 would kick in when the defendant turned 18.  The SJC opined that § 47 cannot reasonably be interpreted this way and that in order to add the discretionary condition of GPS monitoring where a sentencing judge did not order GPS monitoring as a special condition, the juvenile would have had to be found in violation of probation because a judge could not add this “punitive special condition without a probation violation simply because the offender turned eighteen.”