United States v. Female Juvenile, A.F.S.

377 F.3d 27 (2004)

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United States v. Female Juvenile, A.F.S.

United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
377 F.3d 27 (2004)

Facts

Female juvenile A.F.S. (defendant), who was 17 years old, was caught trafficking narcotics when she landed at an airport in Puerto Rico from the Netherlands. Customs officials suspected A.F.S. was carrying narcotics, and an X-ray of her abdomen confirmed that A.F.S. was carrying a quantity of drugs that qualified as drug trafficking. A.F.S. was arrested and detained on March 16, 2003. An information was filed by the United States (plaintiff) charging A.F.S. with being a juvenile delinquent related to the alleged possession and importation of heroin, offenses punishable under federal drug laws. The attorney general filed a certification indicating that A.F.S.’s offenses were significant crimes involving drug trafficking, which invoked a federal interest in prosecuting the case because the importation of drugs was a matter over which the federal government had primary jurisdiction. However, on April 10, 2003, the federal district court (the court) dismissed the information for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. The court stated that A.F.S. could not be tried in federal court as a juvenile because the federal government did not handle juvenile-delinquency cases. The court explained that federal authorities would either need to file a motion to transfer A.F.S. to adult status so that she could be tried as an adult or transfer the case for prosecution under state law. However, despite dismissing the charges, the court did not order A.F.S. released from detention that day. Over the next few weeks, various filings were made by the parties. On May 27, the court denied the motions filed by both parties and ordered that A.F.S. be released because the charges had been dismissed. A.F.S. had been in custody for more than 30 days without trial, even excluding days on which the court was considering her own filings. The United States appealed, arguing that the court had jurisdiction and that the detention period after the dismissal of the information was not a detention pending trial and should not count toward the 30-day speedy-trial requirement.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Lipez, J.)

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