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Criminal Resource Manual

133. Second factor—the nature of the alleged offense

The nature of the offense(s) alleged is the second mandatory factor that must be considered in determining whether a transfer would be in the interest of justice. The district court should assume that, for the purposes of the transfer hearing, the juvenile committed the offense charged in the information. T.F.F., 55 F. 3d at 1120; In Re Sealed Case (Juvenile Transfer), 893 F. 2d at 369; Nelson, 68 F. 3d at 538; Doe, 871 F. 2d at 1250 n.1. Such a presumption is not inconsistent with a juvenile's due process rights because the trial itself functions as a corrective for any reliance on inaccurate allegations made at the transfer stage. In Re Sealed Case (Juvenile Transfer), 893 F. 2d at 369. This statutory factor calls for findings regarding the nature of the offense alleged and not some other offense. Nelson, 68 F. 3d at 538; In Re Sealed Case (Juvenile Transfer), 893 F. 2d at 369.

When a crime is particularly serious, the district court is justified in weighing this factor more heavily than the other factors. Nelson, 68 F. 3d at 538. A.R., 38 F. 3d at 705; United States v. Henmer, 729 F. 2d 10, 17-18 (1st Cir.), cert. denied, 467 U.S. 1218, 104 S. Ct. 2666, 81 L. Ed. 2d 371 (1984). The court may be impressed that the offense may involve a large amount of drugs unlikely to be encountered in a first time exposure to the elicit business. United States v. Elwood, 993 F. 2d 1146, 1149 (5th Cir. 1993).The court may approve transfer where a juvenile commits numerous violent crimes, does it for maliciousness or greed or for recreation, and exhibits no remorse. See United States v. M.H., 901 F. Supp. 1211, 1215 (E.D. Tex. 1995).

Although the court shall assume the juvenile committed the offense, some proof of the crime should be presented to the court. This can be established through testimony of the case agent or other knowledgeable law enforcement officers.

The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 added to this second factor. In considering the nature of the offense, the court must consider the extent to which the juvenile played a leadership role or influenced others to take part in criminal acts in which the use or distribution of controlled substances or firearms were involved. Congress went on to explain that the existence of such a factor weighs in favor of transfer to adult status but the absence of this factor shall not preclude transfer.