ILNews

COA reverses juvenile's exploitation adjudication

Back to TopE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed a juvenile’s adjudication for exploiting an endangered adult because the state didn’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the 17-year-old took advantage of the mentally retarded man.

A.H. was adjudicated for committing what would be exploitation of an endangered adult, a Class A misdemeanor if committed by an adult, for getting Robert Barnhart to write her two checks for loans. Barnhart was diagnosed with “mental retardation,” has a very low IQ, can’t read or write, and is legally blind. He receives assistance from a developmental disabilities provider.

At the recommendation of her cousin, A.H. went to Barnhart and convinced him to write her a check for $750 so A.H. could bail her husband out of jail. She filled out the top part of the check and Barnhart signed it. The check was never cashed but she used it to get $750 from Charlie Matthews. She then got a loan to repay that $750 borrowed from Matthews. A.H. also got Barnhart to give her $100 by check so she could go to Indiana Beach. She then exchanged the check with Matthews for the cash. She did repay $25 of that loan to Barnhart. A.H. was charged after the developmental disabilities provider found discrepancies in Barnhart’s checking account.

The juvenile court ordered A.H. to the Department of Correction until she was 21 unless the DOC released her sooner.

That adjudication was an error, the Court of Appeals ruled in A.H. v. State of Indiana, No. 37A04-1002-JV-50, because the state didn’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt that A.H. recklessly, knowingly, or intentionally exerted unauthorized use of the property of an endangered person for her own profit or for the profit of another person.

The appellate court noted Barnhart agreed to give her the loans, was never threatened, and A.H. had begun to repay the only outstanding loan.

“While Barnhart may have diminished capacity and A.H. prevailed against Barnhart, we do not believe that the State met its burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that A.H.’s use of Barnhart’s property was unauthorized,” wrote Judge Elaine Brown. “While we do not make a finding as to A.H.’s credibility and do not approve or condone A.H.’s action in obtaining money from Barnhart, we simply do not find the evidence sufficient to meet the burden of proof required by the statute.”
 

ADVERTISEMENT

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Indiana State Bar Association

Indianapolis Bar Association

Evansville Bar Association

Allen County Bar Association

Indiana Lawyer on Facebook

facebook
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. Family court judges never fail to surprise me with their irrational thinking. First of all any man who abuses his wife is not fit to be a parent. A man who can't control his anger should not be allowed around his child unsupervised period. Just because he's never been convicted of abusing his child doesn't mean he won't and maybe he hasn't but a man that has such poor judgement and control is not fit to parent without oversight - only a moron would think otherwise. Secondly, why should the mother have to pay? He's the one who made the poor decisions to abuse and he should be the one to pay the price - monetarily and otherwise. Yes it's sad that the little girl may be deprived of her father, but really what kind of father is he - the one that abuses her mother the one that can't even step up and do what's necessary on his own instead the abused mother is to pay for him???? What is this Judge thinking? Another example of how this world rewards bad behavior and punishes those who do right. Way to go Judge - NOT.

  2. Right on. Legalize it. We can take billions away from the drug cartels and help reduce violence in central America and more unwanted illegal immigration all in one fell swoop. cut taxes on the savings from needless incarcerations. On and stop eroding our fourth amendment freedom or whatever's left of it.

  3. "...a switch from crop production to hog production "does not constitute a significant change."??? REALLY?!?! Any judge that cannot see a significant difference between a plant and an animal needs to find another line of work.

  4. Why do so many lawyers get away with lying in court, Jamie Yoak?

  5. Future generations will be amazed that we prosecuted people for possessing a harmless plant. The New York Times came out in favor of legalization in Saturday's edition of the newspaper.

ADVERTISEMENT