Juveniles Sentenced As Adults In New Mexico

We deem it fundamental that children who are not convicted of first degree murder and who appear to be amenable to rehabilitation have a basic and essential right not to be sentenced as adults unless the trial court fulfills the requirements of Section 32A-2-20(B) and (C). In such a case, the trial court must make the findings required by Section 32A-2-20(B) after evaluating the circumstances in light of Section 32A-2-20(C). See In re Aaron L., 2000 NMCA 24, PP25-26, 128 N.M. 641, 996 P.2d 431 (holding it to be fundamental error in a children's court case for the trial court to fail to interrogate the child as to the voluntariness and knowingness of his admission to the charges when there are doubts about whether the child knew what he was admitting and appreciated the consequences); Martinez v. Martinez, 1997 NMCA 96, PP20-21, 25, 123 N.M. 816, 945 P.2d 1034 (holding, in a civil case, that it is error requiring a remand when a trial court fails to make findings justifying a decision to refuse to award costs when the record indicates that an award of costs is warranted). In the context of children and the court's authority over them, we have frequently said that the authority of the court is limited by the Children's Code. See In re Zac McV., 1998 NMCA 114, P9, 125 N.M. 583, 964 P.2d 144; In re Jacinta M., 107 N.M. 769, 771, 764 P.2d 1327, 1329 (Ct. App. 1988); In re Doe, 88 N.M. 632, 634-35, 545 P.2d 491, 493-94 (Ct. App. 1975). Even in ordinary civil cases, our courts are especially solicitous of the rights of juveniles. See Shelton v. Sloan, 1999 NMCA 48, P42, 127 N.M. 92, 977 P.2d 1012 (stating that minors in court are represented not only by guardians ad litem or next friends but also by the court itself).