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Appellate court affirms juvenile committed theft, burglary

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There was sufficient evidence to support the findings that a teenage girl committed what would be burglary and theft if committed by an adult, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Friday. The judges overturned the finding she carried a handgun without a license and ordered that the juvenile court correct its dispositional order.

In K.F. v. State of Indiana, No. 49A02-1103-JV-290, K.F. challenged the findings she committed burglary, theft and carried a handgun without a license, arguing that she couldn’t have committed theft or burglary because she was accused of breaking into her own home and stealing items. K.F. ran away from home, so her mother and her mother’s boyfriend changed the locks and garage code, but didn’t change the alarm code. K.F.’s mother put a bag of K.F.’s clothes in the garage. When the two were at work, the house was broken into and electronics, video games, jewelry, firearms and the bag of clothes were taken.

The bag of clothes was later discovered at K.F.’s friend’s house. When K.F. was found by police and taken to the police station, she met in a room alone with her mother before speaking to police. In the room, K.F. admitted that she went to her house on the day of the burglary but said the door was already open, although nothing had been taken. She claimed she went there just to get her belongings.

At a denial hearing, the juvenile court allowed testimony from the police officer who responded to the burglary, where he recounted what the mother had told him about the burglary and items missing. The juvenile court also allowed the mother to testify as to what K.F. told her in the room at the police station.

The appellate court upheld the findings she committed theft and burglary, rejecting K.F.’s arguments that she couldn’t be found to have committed the acts because they involved her own home. The judges did reverse the finding she committed what would be carrying a handgun without a license because the evidence didn’t show she had actual or constructive possession of a gun.

Turning to the admittance of her mother’s testimony, the appellate court affirmed, finding the juvenile waiver statute to be inapplicable because K.F. wasn’t subject to an interrogation when she spoke to her mother. The mother’s statements to police, as testified by the officer, should not have been allowed because they were hearsay, but the admission was a harmless error.

The COA remanded with instructions for the juvenile court to correct the Feb. 23, 2011, dispositional order and chronological case summary entry to accurately reflect the true findings that were entered by the court.

 

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