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Justices reverse determinate commitment

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In a three-page per curiam opinion released Wednesday by the Indiana Supreme Court, the justices reversed a juvenile’s determinate commitment to the Department of Correction for committing what would be felony murder if committed by an adult.

The justices cited their recent decision in D.C. v. State, 958 N.E.2d 757, 761 (Ind. 2011), to reverse A.T.’s determinate commitment. A.T. was ordered by a juvenile court to both a determinate and indeterminate commitment to the DOC, but he only appealed his determinate commitment. The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed.

His determinate commitment was imposed under Indiana Code 31-37-19-9(b), which provides that after a juvenile court makes a determination under I.C. 11-8-8-5, a determinate commitment may be imposed for juveniles of certain ages who commit certain crimes. I.C. 11-8-8-5 involves sex and violent offender registrations; A.T. hadn’t been determined to be a sex or violent offender under this section.

The justices in D.C. addressed a similar situation and even though the applicable statutes seemed antithetical to the purposes of the statute, the justices noted they were bound by the clear and unambiguous statutory language.

Because A.T. doesn’t meet the criteria of Section 9, a determinate commitment under that section may not be imposed. In A.T. v. State of Indiana, No. 49S02-1201-JV-26, the justices ordered the trial court to vacate that portion of its order committing A.T. to the DOC until his 18th birthday.

 

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