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Teen's Fourth Amendment rights not violated

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Debating in a footnote whether a juvenile's argument that his Fourth Amendment rights were violated was subject to a Terry stop analysis, the Indiana Court of Appeals decided to apply the Terry analysis to his case. The appellate court affirmed his adjudication of committing Class A misdemeanor resisting law enforcement if committed by an adult.

In the case In re: J.D. v. State of Indiana, No. 49A04-0808-JV-490, J.D. appealed the finding he committed resisting law enforcement after he ran away from police. J.D. was on a front porch of a house with other minors and there were open and empty containers of alcohol on the porch. Police, who came to the house after seeing J.D. and another juvenile head toward it, saw a few empty beer cans sitting near J.D. The police told everyone to sit down and they would be given breath tests. J.D. ran away, struggled with police and had to be tasered before complying.

J.D. argued the juvenile court erred in admitting evidence about what happened that night because it flowed from his seizure, which he claims violated his rights under the Fourth Amendment and the Indiana Constitution.

In analyzing his Fourth Amendment claim, the appellate judges debated whether Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968), or State v. Atkins, 834 N.E.2d 1028, 1032 (Ind. Ct. App. 2005), which cited Illinois v. Wardlow, 528 U.S. 119 123 120 S.Ct.673, 145 L.Ed.2d 570 (2000), applied to J.D.'s case. Atkins ruled the Terry stop and frisk rule applied only to a brief encounter with a citizen and a police officer on a public street. Judge Ezra Friedlander wrote the Atkins case may have too literally read from Wardlow that that a Terry stop only applies under the stated circumstances of that case: when a citizen encounters a police officer and the encounter happens on a public street.

The judge continued in the footnote that the appellate court need not decide whether it agrees with this aspect of Atkins because J.D. doesn't argue that the Terry analysis doesn't apply in this situation. He just argues that the "reasonable suspicion" element isn't satisfied. As such, the Court of Appeals applied the Terry analysis to J.D.'s case.

The police saw minors sitting on a porch with empty cans of alcohol and even though police didn't see J.D. drink the beer, the fact he was near the empty cans and that he is a minor is sufficient to cause an ordinarily prudent person to believe criminal activity had happened or was about to happen, wrote Judge Friedlander. Considering the totality of the circumstances, there was reasonable suspicion and J.D.'s detention didn't violate Fourth Amendment principles or Article 1, Section 11 of the Indiana Constitution.

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