CINDY OLSON BOURLAND, Justice.
The State filed a motion for discretionary transfer in the juvenile court requesting that the court waive its exclusive jurisdiction over J.G.S., a minor, and transfer him to criminal district court to be tried as an adult for the offense of murder. The juvenile court ordered the statutorily required social evaluation and investigation and set the motion for a hearing. Following the hearing, the court granted the motion, waived its exclusive jurisdiction, and transferred the case to district court. This accelerated appeal followed. We will vacate the juvenile court's order, dismiss the criminal-district-court case, and remand this case to the juvenile court for proceedings consistent with this opinion.
In three issues, J.G.S. challenges the juvenile court's waiver of jurisdiction. Specifically, he contends that the transfer order did not state, with adequate specificity, the factual underpinnings of the court's conclusions and grounds for transfer and that the evidence from the transfer hearing is legally and factually insufficient to support the court's decision to waive jurisdiction.
I. Applicable law and standard of review
Section 54.02(a) of the Juvenile Justice Code provides that the juvenile court may waive its exclusive original jurisdiction and transfer a child to the criminal district court for criminal proceedings if the following is determined:
Tex. Fam. Code § 54.02(a). When determining the seriousness of the offense alleged or the background of the child pursuant to the third requirement, section 52.04(f) requires the juvenile court to consider the following non-exclusive factors:
Id. § 54.02(f).
As the petitioner seeking waiver of the juvenile court's jurisdiction, the State has the burden "to produce evidence to inform the juvenile court's discretion as to whether waiving its otherwise-exclusive jurisdiction is appropriate in the particular case." Moon v. State, 451 S.W.3d 28, 40 (Tex. Crim. App. 2014). The State must "persuade the juvenile court, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the welfare of the community requires transfer of jurisdiction for criminal proceedings, either because of the seriousness of the offense or the background of the child (or both)." Id. at 40-41. When exercising its discretion to waive jurisdiction, the juvenile court must consider all four of the factors listed in section 54.02(f). Id. at 40. Although it makes its final determination from the evidence concerning the section 54.02(f) factors, the juvenile court "need not find that each and every one of those factors favors transfer before it may exercise its discretion to waive jurisdiction." Id.
In Moon v. State, the court of criminal appeals recently elaborated upon the statutory requirement that, if the juvenile court waives jurisdiction, it must "state specifically" in its order its reasons for waiver:
Id. at 49. The court emphasized that a reviewing court "should not be made to rummage through the record for facts that the juvenile court might have found, given the evidence developed at the transfer hearing, but did not include in its written transfer order." Id. at 50.
The court also clarified the standard of review when a juvenile court waives its exclusive jurisdiction pursuant to section 54.02: "[I]n evaluating a juvenile court's decision to waive its jurisdiction, an appellate court should first review the juvenile court's specific findings of fact regarding the Section 54.02(f) factors under `traditional sufficiency of the evidence review.'" Id. at 47. Under a legal sufficiency challenge, we credit evidence favorable to the challenged finding and disregard contrary evidence unless a reasonable fact finder could not reject the evidence. Moon v. State, 410 S.W.3d 366, 371 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 2013), aff'd, 451 S.W.3d 28. If there is more than a scintilla of evidence to support the finding, the no-evidence challenge fails. Id. Under a factual sufficiency challenge, we consider all of the evidence presented to determine if the court's finding is so against the great weight and preponderance of the evidence as to be clearly wrong or unjust. Id. Our review of the sufficiency of the evidence supporting waiver is limited to the facts the juvenile court expressly relied on in its transfer order. Moon, 451 S.W.3d at 50.
We must also review the juvenile court's ultimate waiver decision under an abuse of discretion standard. Id. at 47. We must consider, in light of our analysis of the sufficiency of the evidence to support the statutory factors—and as limited by the express fact findings contained in the transfer order—whether the juvenile court acted without reference to guiding rules or principles. Id. at 47, 50.
II. The order waiving jurisdiction in the present case lacked the case-specific findings of fact required under
In his third issue, J.G.S. argues that the juvenile court's order waiving jurisdiction lacks the case-specific fact findings necessary to support transfer to the criminal district court. We agree.
In its transfer order, the juvenile court noted that it was considering the factors mandated by section 54.02(f) and made the following determinations relevant to this appeal:
The juvenile court's order indicated two reasons for waiver: (1) the seriousness of the offense and (2) J.G.S.'s background. In support of the former, the order cites the fact that the offense was committed against a person. In support of the latter, the order cites the sophistication and maturity of appellant and that rehabilitation is unlikely. As instructed by Moon, before reaching the question of whether sufficient evidence supports transfer, we conclude that the order lacks the case-specific findings of fact necessary to support the court's reasons for waiving jurisdiction under Moon. See Moon, 451 S.W.3d at 48-51.
A. The offense was committed against a person
The first reason for transfer cited in the order was the seriousness of the offense. But the only finding in support of that reason contained in the order was the fact that the offense was committed against a person. Although that finding is relevant to a transfer determination, it alone does not justify transfer. See id. at 48 (transfer order that cites category of case without providing specifics of offense will not support transfer). Absent from the order are case-specific facts regarding the charged offense or J.G.S.'s role in it that would provide a reviewing court a basis for deference regarding the juvenile court's conclusion that the welfare of the community required criminal proceedings because of the seriousness of the offense. See id.; see also Bell v. State, ___ S.W.3d ___, No. 01-15-00510-CR, 2016 WL 7369204, at *4-5 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist.] Dec. 15, 2016, no pet. h.) (order deficient because lacked case-specific findings regarding seriousness of offense, and child's background not cited as reason for transfer); cf. In re S.G.R., 496 S.W.3d 235, 240 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 2016, no pet.) (court found that juvenile participated in gang-related murder in which 14-year-old child sustained 46 injuries from machete); In re K.J., 493 S.W.3d 140, 143-33 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 2016, no pet.) (order detailed "egregious and aggravating" facts of multiple offenses).
B. J.G.S.'s background
Turning then to the second cited reason supporting transfer—J.G.S.'s background—we conclude that the order again fails to provide case-specific findings of fact that support transfer on that basis. See Moon, 451 S.W.3d at 49.
i. Sophistication and maturity
The order states that J.G.S. is "sophisticated and mature under the code," explaining (1) his "sophistication and maturity is normal as compared to other juveniles of his age," and (2) he "posess[es] the cognitive abilities and academic skills to understand court proceedings and participate in his own defense." First, it is unclear how a finding that J.G.S.'s sophistication and maturity is normal for his age, without more, justifies transfer from a system designed to adjudicate individuals his age absent additional fact findings favoring transfer.
Second, the Moon court indicated that a determination as to whether a juvenile is able to assist in his own defense is an improper application of that statutory factor.
ii. Record and previous history
The order indicates that J.G.S.'s criminal history is limited to one unlawful-carry charge that was then pending and that he had received no services from any juvenile department before the current charges. The State does not contend, and we do not find, that one pending misdemeanor charge would support transfer.
iii. Protection of the public and rehabilitation of the child
Finally, the order states that rehabilitation of J.G.S. is not likely.
In sum, the order in this case essentially recites the statutory language setting forth the criteria applicable to a transfer determination, but it fails to provide the case-specific findings of fact necessary to permit a reviewing court to determine whether the court properly applied that criteria as required under Moon. Moon, 451 S.W.3d at 49 (concluding that statute requires more than "merely an adherence to printed forms" and instead requires a true delineation of reasons supporting the court's decision). Although the order indicates that the court heard extensive evidence regarding the propriety of transfer and that the court found such evidence credible, the order contains no case-specific findings or recitation of that evidence that would provide "a sure-footed and definite basis from which" we can determine that its decision was properly reached. See id.
The State cites evidence in the record that it contends supports the court's transfer determination, including evidence regarding the specifics of the offense and of J.G.S.'s background. But none of the details of that evidence were incorporated into the order, and the Moon court expressly rejected the State's argument that the appellate court could simply review the record—irrespective of the fact findings set forth in the order—to determine whether evidence introduced at the transfer hearing supported the court's transfer determination. See id. at 48, 50 (despite that evidence in record "painted a much more graphic picture of the appellant's charged offense," appellate court is not required "to rummage through the record for facts that the juvenile court might have found . . . but did not include in its written transfer order"); see also Bell, 2016 WL 7369204, at *6 (declining to review record to find facts supporting waiver when written order did not provide adequate fact findings).
The Moon court observed that "the juvenile court that shows its work should rarely be reversed" because that court's discretion "is at its apex when it makes this largely normative judgment" as to whether a child should be transferred to the criminal court. Moon, 451 S.W.3d at 46, 49. When, however, the juvenile court enters an order that is devoid of case-specific findings of fact supporting the statutory criteria for transfer, as in Moon, the juvenile court is not entitled to such deference. Id. at 51. Given the absence of case-specific fact findings supporting transfer from the juvenile court's transfer order in this case, Moon compels us to conclude that the court abused its discretion in waiving its jurisdiction and sustain J.G.S.'s third issue. Accordingly, we need not reach J.G.S.'s first and second issues challenging the sufficiency of the evidence produced at the transfer hearing to support the reasons for transfer cited in the order and take no position as to those issues. See id. at 51.
We vacate the juvenile court's transfer order, dismiss the criminal-district-court case, and remand this case to the juvenile court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
See Tex. Fam. Code § 54.02(f)(3), (4).