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Mental health statute limits state’s use of juvenile statements

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Indiana’s Juvenile Mental Health Statute’s limited immunity prohibits both use and derivative use of a juvenile’s statements to prove delinquency, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled. The justices were able to come to the conclusion without addressing the question of the statute’s constitutionality.

I.T. was ordered into treatment as a condition of his probation after admitting to conduct that would be Class B felony child molesting if committed by an adult. He was ordered to undergo treatment, including therapeutic polygraph examinations. During one of those exams, I.T. admitted to molesting two other children. The state filed a delinquency petition based on I.T.’s admission to his therapist, and it admits that it had no other independent evidence beyond the statement.

The juvenile court initially approved the new petition, but then granted I.T.’s motion to dismiss, citing I.C. 31-32-2-2.5(b), the Juvenile Mental Health Statute. The state appealed instead of refiling based on other evidence. The Court of Appeals held the state couldn’t appeal.

In State of Indiana v. I.T., 20S03-1309-JV-583, the justices concluded that the state could appeal because the trial court essentially suppressed evidence ending the proceeding. And sidestepping addressing the constitutionality of the statute, the justices were able to reconcile the limited immunity in part (b) of the statute with the constitutional privilege against self-incrimination and construe the statute to conform to that privilege.

The statute’s terms clearly confer use immunity, but do not necessarily extend to derivative use immunity, Justice Loretta Rush wrote. But failing to provide derivative use immunity would raise a serious doubt about the statute’s constitutionality. The justices decided not to directly answer the constitutional question and instead looked at the history of the statute. Rush wrote that derivative use immunity is consistent with the statute’s history and purpose as well as the purposes of the juvenile code in general. The Juvenile Mental Health Statute went into effect in 2007 after the Indiana State Bar Association found that more than 50 percent of youth detained in Indiana have mental health and/or substance abuse problems.

Failing to prohibit derivative use would mean that I.T. and other juvenile offenders would be discouraged from participating openly in treatment to reduce their likelihood of reoffending, Rush wrote.

Because the statute must be construed to provide use and derivative use immunity, the trial court reached the correct result, the justices held.

“Our conclusion that the probable cause affidavit violates the Juvenile Mental Health Statute does not leave the State without recourse, nor does it relieve a juvenile from consequences based on disclosures during court-ordered treatment. The Statute provides that the State may use a juvenile’s statements in treatment to revoke or modify probation,” Rush wrote. “Moreover, the juvenile’s statements may be used for purposes other than proving delinquency, such as at a CHINS hearing, at an expungement hearing, or at a Sex-Offender Registry hearing. … And the Juvenile Mental Health Statute does not prevent the State from introducing evidence of a juvenile’s delinquency, if it can ‘affirmative[ly] . . . prove that the evidence it proposes to use is derived from a legitimate source wholly independent of the compelled testimony.’”

 

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  1. I can understand a 10 yr suspension for drinking and driving and not following the rules,but don't you think the people who compleate their sentences and are trying to be good people of their community,and are on the right path should be able to obtain a drivers license to do as they please.We as a state should encourage good behavior instead of saying well you did all your time but we can't give you a license come on.When is a persons time served than cause from where I'm standing,its still a punishment,when u can't have the freedom to go where ever you want to in car,truck ,motorcycle,maybe their should be better programs for people instead of just throwing them away like daily trash,then expecting them to change because they we in jail or prison for x amount of yrs.Everyone should look around because we all pay each others bills,and keep each other in business..better knowledge equals better community equals better people...just my 2 cents

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  4. I expressed my thought in the title, long as it was. I am shocked that there is ever immunity from accountability for ANY Government agency. That appears to violate every principle in the US Constitution, which exists to limit Government power and to ensure Government accountability. I don't know how many cases of legitimate child abuse exist, but in the few cases in which I knew the people involved, in every example an anonymous caller used DCS as their personal weapon to strike at innocent people over trivial disagreements that had no connection with any facts. Given that the system is vulnerable to abuse, and given the extreme harm any action by DCS causes to families, I would assume any degree of failure to comply with the smallest infraction of personal rights would result in mandatory review. Even one day of parent-child separation in the absence of reasonable cause for a felony arrest should result in severe penalties to those involved in the action. It appears to me, that like all bureaucracies, DCS is prone to interpret every case as legitimate. This is not an accusation against DCS. It is a statement about the nature of bureaucracies, and the need for ADDED scrutiny of all bureaucratic actions. Frankly, I question the constitutionality of bureaucracies in general, because their power is delegated, and therefore unaccountable. No Government action can be unaccountable if we want to avoid its eventual degeneration into irrelevance and lawlessness, and the law of the jungle. Our Constitution is the source of all Government power, and it is the contract that legitimizes all Government power. To the extent that its various protections against intrusion are set aside, so is the power afforded by that contract. Eventually overstepping the limits of power eliminates that power, as a law of nature. Even total tyranny eventually crumbles to nothing.

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