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Judges affirm juvenile adjudication case

January 1, 2008
A 17-year-old male drove by the Indiana State Fairgrounds in a sports car last year with DVD-recorded nude and sexually explicit scenes playing on a video screen visible from the rearview window.

Today, the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed his adjudication as a delinquent juvenile for disseminating matter harmful to minors, an offense that would be a felony if committed by an adult. The court held that minors had visible access to the videos and that was sufficient evidence.

In M.S. v. State of Indiana, 49A05-0801-JV-11, the court ruled on the case from September 2007. M.S. had a passenger in the front seat and drove by the Indiana State Fairgrounds with a DVD playing on a screen visible to other nearby drivers from the rear of M.S.'s vehicle. Another screen was set-up on the center console, hooked up to the DVD player. An Indianapolis police officer pulled M.S. over after noticing unusual distances between his and other vehicles.

By allowing the DVDs to play, the appellate court concluded that a reasonable trier of fact could determine that M.S. knew the video was playing and that, by driving on a busy street near the fairgrounds, he should have known of the potential dangers that minors could view the scenes. Under the clear and unambiguous definition of "access," minors did not need to be present as M.S. had argued because they would have visual, auditory, or physical access.
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