ILNews

Judges reverse teen’s gang-related adjudication

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

The state was unable to prove that a 14-year-old Indianapolis boy committed criminal gang activity when he and several other juveniles beat up another teen after a party, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Thursday.

G.H. appealed his adjudication of what would be Class D felony criminal gang activity, arguing there is insufficient evidence to support the finding.

Teenager V.A. and another friend went to G.H.’s house before going to a party. V.A. left after seeing another teenage boy had a sawed-off shotgun. A group of teens, including G.H. followed V.A. and beat him up. V.A. got away and later attended another party with his older brother J.A. G.H. was at this party and when the brothers left for home, G.H. and some other boys followed them and asked if they wanted to fight. The brothers ran home.

To prove that G.H. committed criminal gang activity, the state must show that he (1) was an active member of a criminal gang, (2) had knowledge of the group’s criminal advocacy, and (3) had a specific intent to further the group’s criminal goals.

No witness could link physical evidence of gang activity to G.H. The brothers gave contradictory testimony about whether G.H. yelled “skoo woo” or “Drop ‘Em Squad” before the group of teens approached the brothers after the party. Those terms are often called out by gang members as a way of identifying themselves. J.A. recalled G.H. saying he was a member of the gang, but didn’t remember when he heard it.

“The State argues that G.H. and the other boys were gang members at the time of the incident because J.A. testified that they hung out together. This guilt-by-association argument is circular and unpersuasive,” Judge Nancy Vaidik wrote in G.H. v. State of Indiana, 49A02-1207-JV-532.

“However, even if the evidence established G.H.’s active gang membership, we would still conclude that the evidence is insufficient to sustain G.H.’s adjudication because there is no evidence that G.H. had the specific intent to further Drop ‘Em Squad’s criminal goals by battering V.A.”
 

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

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. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  2. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  3. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  4. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  5. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

ADVERTISEMENT