This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2000).






In the Matter of the Welfare of:  R.J.C.


Filed January 2, 2002

Affirmed in part and Remanded

Kalitowski, Judge


Hennepin County District Court

File No. J80150859


Leonardo Castro, Hennepin County Public Defender, Jennifer K. Mrachek, Assistant County Public Defender, 317 Second Avenue South, Suite 200, Minneapolis, MN 55401 (for appellant)


Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 525 Park Street, Suite 500, St. Paul, MN 55103; and


Amy Klobuchar, Hennepin County Attorney, Michael K. Walz, Assistant County Attorney, C-2000 Government Center, Minneapolis, MN 55487 (for respondent)


            Considered and decided by Lansing, Presiding Judge, Kalitowski, Judge, and Hanson, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


Appellant R.J.C., a juvenile, challenges his adjudication of delinquency for assault, arguing that the evidence was not sufficient as a matter of law.  Appellant also contends the district court erred in:  (1) determining that out-of-home placement was the appropriate delinquency disposition; and (2) failing to make written findings to support the disposition.  We affirm in part but remand for written findings.



Appellant argues that the evidence was not sufficient to adjudicate him delinquent because:  (1) the state failed to prove the victims suffered bodily harm or fear of bodily harm; and (2) the state failed to prove intent to commit assault.  We disagree.

The standard of review in delinquency cases requires this court to review the district court’s decision under an abuse-of-discretion standard.  The district court as the trier of fact is entitled to determine the credibility of witnesses and the weight given to evidence.  See State v. Bias, 419 N.W.2d 480, 484 (Minn. 1988).

When reviewing a sufficiency-of-the-evidence claim, this court carefully reviews whether the record and any legitimate inferences drawn from it reasonably support the fact-finder’s conclusion that the defendant committed the offense charged.  State v. Ulvinen, 313 N.W.2d 425, 428 (Minn. 1981); see also In re Welfare of S.A.M.,570 N.W.2d 162, 167 (Minn. App. 1997) (applying same standard to juvenile cases).  This court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the state and assumes the trier of fact believed the state’s witnesses and disbelieved any contradictory evidence.  State v. Parker, 353 N.W.2d 122, 127 (Minn. 1984). 

A person commits assault if he “commits an act with intent to cause fear in another of immediate bodily harm or death.”  Minn. Stat. § 609.224, subd. 1 (2000).  We reject appellant’s argument that the victim’s testimony that he did not experience fear requires reversal of his adjudication.  The intent of the actor, as contrasted with the effect on the victim, is the focal point for inquiry.  Id.  Intent is determined by outward manifestations, State v. Peters, 143 N.W.2d 832, 837 (1966), and words and actions in view of the surrounding circumstances.  State v. Thomas, 352 N.W.2d 526, 528 (Minn. App. 1984), review denied (Minn. Oct. 11, 1984). Whether appellant had the requisite intent to be guilty of fifth-degree assault is a question for the fact-finder, and the fact-finder may rely on circumstantial evidence to make this determination.  See State v. Lee, 391 N.W.2d 46, 48-49 (Minn. App. 1986), review denied (Minn. Sept. 22, 1986).

 Here, moments after appellant and his father got into a physical confrontation, appellant grabbed a pair of scissors, held them up, and pointed them toward his father in a threatening manner.  Appellant then stated to his father that the only reason he was not going to stab him was because he was his father.  We conclude that these words and actions are sufficient to support the district court’s determination that appellant had the requisite intent.  See State v. Kastner, 429 N.W.2d 274, 275 (Minn. App. 1988) (finding that drawing the scissors and screwdriver out of a pocket, pointing them at a person and assuming an “offensive” position, demonstrates intent to put a person in fear of immediate bodily harm), review denied (Minn. Nov. 16, 1998).  See In re Welfare of T.N.Y., 632 N.W.2d 765, 770 (Minn. App. 2001) (holding that pointing a weapon at a person has been held to supply the requisite intent to cause fear). 


            District courts are afforded broad discretion in determining appropriate delinquency dispositions, and this court will affirm dispositions that are not “arbitrary.”  In re Welfare of J.A.J., 545 N.W.2d 412, 414 (Minn. App. 1996). 

            A delinquency disposition is lawful when necessary to rehabilitate the child.  Minn. Stat. § 260B.198, subd. 1 (2000).  A district court ordering out-of-home placement is required to make findings of fact that show:  (1) why public safety is served by the disposition; (2) why the best interests of the child are served by the disposition; (3) what alternative dispositions were proposed to the court and why such recommendations were not ordered; (4) why the child’s present custody is not acceptable; and (5) how the correctional placement meets the child’s needs.  Minn. Stat. § 260B.198, subd. 1(m); In re Welfare of C.A.W., 579 N.W.2d 494, 497-98 (Minn. App. 1998).  Written findings are essential to meaningful appellate review.  In re Welfare of L.K.W., 372 N.W.2d 392, 401 (Minn. App. 1985).  Findings are also required to show that the district court considered vital standards and to enable the parties to understand the court’s decision.  Id. at 400-01. 

This court has repeatedly emphasized the importance of findings, holding that inadequate juvenile disposition findings constitute reversible error.  See id. (holding insufficient findings are an independent basis for reversal);Minn. Stat. § 260B.198, subd. 1; In re Welfare of J.S.S., 610 N.W.2d 364, 368 (Minn. App. 2000) (reversing for failure to make sufficient statutorily required written findings of fact); C.A.W., 579 N.W.2d at 499 (reversing where district court’s findings did not address the factors necessary to justify out-of-home placement); In re Welfare of M.A.C.,455 N.W.2d 494, 499 (Minn. App. 1990) (explaining that the failure to make statutorily required written findings warrants reversal).

Here, appellant has turned 18 and completed his out-of-home placement.  Moreover, from the record it can be inferred that the district court considered what was necessary and in the child’s best interests.  Nevertheless, the court failed to make the explicit written findings as required by statute.  See In re Welfare of L.B., 404 N.W.2d 341, 346 (Minn. App. 1987) (stating insufficient written findings constitutes reversible error even though record indicates court considered options and had good reasons for its choice).  Therefore, we are compelled to remand to the district court to make written findings supporting the out-of-home placement.

Affirmed in part and remanded.