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Unequal protection and due process claims fail because juvenile was not sentenced

February 21, 2014

The Indiana Court of Appeals rejected a teenager’s claim of unequal treatment and violation of his due process rights because he incorrectly referred to the juvenile court’s disposition order as a sentence.

TLC, the teenager, was given home placement and later placed in several youth treatment facilities for his behavioral problems. After he hit his mother and put her in a headlock, the state filed a delinquency petition against him, alleging that he committed the offenses of battery and criminal mischief, both Class B misdemeanors if TLC had been an adult.

The juvenile court subsequently awarded wardship of TLC to the Indiana Department of Correction.

TLC appealed, arguing, in part, that the juvenile court erred in “sentencing him.” He said he received unequal treatment under the law and his due process rights were violated.

The Court of Appeals noted TLC incorrectly asserted he was sentenced. It pointed out that the juvenile court issued a dispositional order rather than a sentence because it provided for treatment rather than punishment.

In regard to TLC’s other claims, the Court of Appeals noted he did not present any evidence supporting his unequal protection and due process rights arguments.

Also, the COA found TLC presented no evidence that he was treated any differently than the other juveniles under similar circumstances, so his equal protection argument fails.

 “In sum, all of TLC’s claims are based on the false premise that TLC received a sentence, which he did not,” Judge John Baker wrote in In the Matter of TLC, a Child alleged to be a Delinquent Child v. State of Indiana, 60A01-1308-JV-377. “Thus, TLC has no sentencing claim on appeal. The juvenile court tried home placement without monitoring, home placement with monitoring, Southwest, Valle Vista, and the Gibault facilities, all before turning to the DOC. For all these reasons, we conclude that the juvenile court’s placement and disposition of TLC was consistent with the logic and effect of the facts and circumstances before it. Thus, TLC’s claim fails.”

 

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