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Judges uphold juvenile's adjudication

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The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the acceptance of a minor’s plea agreement that was not signed by either of his parents because the signature of the minor and his attorney on the plea agreement satisfied statutory requirements.

In D.E. v. State of Indiana, No. 49A02-1103-JV-319, D.E. attempted to rob a person – who turned out to be a police detective – with a rifle.  D.E. was caught and faced several charges, but decided to accept the plea agreement from the state in which he would admit to committing what would be criminal recklessness and dangerous possession of a firearm in exchange for the other charges being dropped. After a two-day continuance to allow D.E. and his parents time to consider the plea agreement, D.E. and his attorney signed it, but D.E.’s parents did not. D.E. was sentenced to placement in the Department of Correction until he turned 21 or until he completed all required programs.

D.E. argued that his parents’ rights were thwarted by Indiana Code 31-32-5-1, which allowed D.E.’s attorney to waive the teen’s right to a fact-finding adjudication. But the appellate court disagreed, finding his parents had ample time to consider the agreement and attended the hearings. Both parents also said they understood the implications of the waivers in the plea agreement.

“D.E. has not demonstrated the waivers in his plea agreement did not comport with Ind. Code § 31-32-5-1. It is undisputed that D.E. and his counsel signed the plea agreement, which is sufficient to satisfy the statute. D.E. has not alleged he involuntarily or unknowingly entered into the agreement. Accordingly, we affirm the trial court’s acceptance of D.E.’s plea agreement,” wrote Judge Melissa May.

The judges also upheld the disposition placing D.E. in a juvenile correctional facility in the DOC instead of a less restrictive placement. The trial court found previous attempts to rehabilitate D.E. were unsuccessful and D.E. was on probation at the time he attempted to rob the detective. He also violated his probation by testing positive for marijuana and had been suspended or expelled from multiple schools.
 

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  1. Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend in December, but U.S. District Judge Robert Miller later reduced that to about $540,000 to put the damages for suffering under the statutory cap of $300,000.

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