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COA reverses modification of juvenile's probation

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The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed the order to send a juvenile to prison because the state didn’t present any evidence to support alleged probation violations to justify the placement modification.

In M.T. v. State of Indiana, No. 49A04-0908-JV-484, M.T. argued that allowing the state to remove a juvenile from probation and send him to the Department of Correction without submitting evidence wouldn’t be allowed for adults and doesn’t satisfy any due process requirement fairly applied to juveniles. M.T. was on probation and ordered to complete treatment in Kokomo Academy as a condition of probation. The state alleged probation violations, but at a hearing failed to present any evidence of the violations. The court ordered M.T. committed to the DOC.

Allowing a modification like the one in M.T.’s case violates due process, ruled the appellate court. Although Indiana Code Section 31-37-22-3 doesn’t explicitly define the type of hearing required, basic due process principles should require an evidentiary hearing, wrote Judge Melissa May.

The state argued the statute allows for modification after anyone files a motion, but offered no explanation as to why presentation of evidence isn’t necessary.

“…we decline its invitation to hold a juvenile waives due process protections merely by reciting to the court the substance of a controlling statute,” wrote the judge.

The state claimed the requirement it present some evidence of a juvenile’s wrongdoing before removing his probation and sending him to the DOC is contrary to statute and inconsistent with the juvenile court’s great flexibility in its oversight of juveniles. The state also argued it offered sufficient evidence of M.T.’s probation violation, but its argument is based only on an information regarding the alleged violations. The state didn’t present any evidence to support those allegations.

“While the statute does not explicitly define the type of hearing required, basic due process principles and case law precedent lead us to conclude a trial court may not modify a juvenile’s disposition without a hearing at which the State presents evidence supporting the allegations listed in the revocation petition,” wrote Judge May.
 

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