Was It Within Juvenile Court's Discretion to Impose a Three-Year Gun Specification ?

In Matter of Laquatra (Jan. 22, 1998), 8th Dist. No. 72020, 1998 Ohio App, the court of appeals upheld a juvenile court's imposition of a three-year gun specification even though there was no gun specification mentioned at all in the charging instrument. In so doing, the court gave two reasons: first, the juvenile was on notice that he was facing this gun specification. Second, the court determined that the juvenile court possessed the discretion to do so under former R.C. 2151.355(A)(7). In Laquatra, the charging document mentions that the crime was committed through use of a handgun, but the document does not ever specifically allege a violation of either statutory gun specification. However, the juvenile was on notice that he could be sentenced to a gun specification because, the court of appeals reasoned, the charging document in delinquency matters are not construed as strictly as in regular criminal indictments. The court held that so long as the facts alleged and proved in the juvenile matter support the violation, the court is free to find such a violation. In Laquatra, the underlying charge alleged use of a gun and this fact was proved at the hearing on the matter. Further, the trial court was within its discretion granted by the statute governing the matter of juvenile gun specifications, R.C. 2151.355(A)(7)(a), to decide any dispositions regarding this matter it found proper.