Articles Posted in Indiana Supreme Court

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Appellant, a juvenile, admitted to conduct that would constitute felony sexual battery if committed by an adult. The trial court subsequently ordered Appellant to register as a sex offender. Appellant appealed, arguing insufficient evidence supported the court's finding that he was likely to repeat a sex offense. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) a juvenile may only be ordered to register as a sex offender if, after an evidentiary hearing, the trial court expressly finds by clear and convincing evidence that the juvenile is likely to commit another sex offense; and (2) the trial court erred in placing Appellant on the registry where its order was neither issued in connection with an evidentiary hearing, nor accompanied by any findings. View "N.L. v. State" on Justia Law

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A school liaison officer intervened in a hallway scuffle between K.W. and another student. K.W. turned away from the officer's effort to handcuff him. K.W. was subsequently adjudicated delinquent for resisting law enforcement. K.W. appealed, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence. The court of appeals reversed, holding that there was insufficient evidence that the officer was "lawfully engaged in the execution of the officer's duties" as a law-enforcement officer. The Supreme Court granted transfer and reversed the trial court, albeit for different reasons than the court of appeals, holding that the evidence did not establish "force" beyond a reasonable doubt, and without evidence of a "forcible" resistance, K.W.'s delinquency adjudication could not be sustained. View "K.W. v. State" on Justia Law

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A.T. was adjudicated delinquent for an act that would be felony murder if committed by an adult, and the juvenile court ordered both a determinate and an indeterminate commitment to the department of correction. A.T. appealed his determinate commitment only, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court granted transfer and reversed the trial court's dispositional order, holding that because A.T. did not meet the criteria of Ind. Code 31-37-19-9(b), which provides that a determinate commitment may be imposed for juveniles who are sex or violent offenders, a determinate commitment under that section should not have been imposed. Remanded with instructions to vacate the portion of the court's order committing A.T. to the department of correction until his eighteenth birthday. View "A.T. v. State" on Justia Law

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When he was fourteen years old, D.C. and three other boys broke into the home of an elderly woman, ransacked the home, and injured the homeowner. At a dispositional hearing, the juvenile court imposed on D.C. a determinate commitment of two years at the Department of Correction to be followed by an indeterminate commitment. D.C. appealed the dispositional order, arguing that the juvenile court incorrectly ordered both a determinate commitment and indeterminate commitment. The court of appeals agreed and reversed in part and remanded with instructions that the juvenile court impose a determinate commitment only. The Supreme Court granted transfer and reversed the trial court's dispositional order, holding that the determinate and indeterminate commitment statutes in question were unambiguously mutually exclusive, and thus the trial court could impose only one of the commitments on D.C. Remanded to the trial court to decide, in its discretion, which type of commitment was appropriate. View "D.C. v. State" on Justia Law

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This case involved the placement of juvenile A.B., who was being detained at a juvenile center. The juvenile court concluded that A.B. be placed out of state at Canyon State Academy where A.B. could learn to be independent. The Department of Child Services (DCS) overruled the decision, requiring A.B. to be placed at one of several facilities in Indiana. The trial court entered an order of modification, finding that three sections of the Indiana Code allowing the director of DCS to supplant the juvenile court judge in making dispositional decrees affecting children under his jurisdiction were unconstitutional. DCS appealed. The Supreme Court reversed the trial court's order regarding the constitutionality of the statues, holding that the three statutes do not violate the separation of powers provision of the Indiana constitution. The Court then held that the DCS requirement that A.B. be placed in Indiana rather than out of state at Canyon State Academy was arbitrary and capricious, upheld the trial court's placement of A.B. at Canyon State Academy, and ordered DCS to pay for the placement. View "A.B. v. State" on Justia Law

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Appellant Randy Horton was convicted of nine counts of child molesting and was sentenced to an executed term of 324 years in prison. Horton appealed his conviction on grounds that the trial court improperly admitted certain evidence at trial. Horton also appealed his sentence on grounds that it constituted an abuse of the trial court's discretion to sentence him to such a lengthy term and that the term was inappropriately long given his character and the nature of his offenses. The court of appeals rejected these claims and affirmed in all respects. On appeal, the Supreme Court revised Horton's sentence to an aggregate executed term of 110 years, finding that Horton's lack of any other adult criminal history, coupled with the fact that his only juvenile adjudication was for truancy, warranted credit as a mitigating circumstance. Remanded. View "Horton v. State" on Justia Law

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Thirteen-year old D.M. and his friend were arrested after breaking in to a residence and taking several items of personal property. According to his mother, while D.M. was being held in a police cruiser he was prevented from speaking to his mother by police officers. Later D.M. and his mother signed a juvenile waiver acknowledging they understood D.M.'s rights. D.M. then confessed to a detective. The juvenile court found D.M. to be a delinquent child for committing acts that would have been felonies if they had been committed by an adult and placed D.M. on probation. D.M. appealed, arguing that he had not been given an opportunity for meaningful consultation with his mother and that the waiver of his rights was not knowing and voluntary. The court of appeals affirmed, and the Supreme Court granted transfer. The Court held (1) the police provided D.M. an opportunity for meaningful consultation with his custodial parent before the waiver of his rights, and (2) there is substantial evidence of probative value that D.M.'s rights were waived voluntarily and therefore the court did not err in admitting D.M.'s confession. View "D.M. v. State" on Justia Law