In a case of first impression, the Indiana Court of Appeals held that an Indianapolis teen is still required to pay restitution to the person he was involved in an auto accident with, even though the juvenile court discharged him from probation.
M.M. was adjudicated as a delinquent for committing what would be Class C misdemeanor failing to stop after an accident, if committed by an adult. He was ordered to serve probation and the restitution order of $500 was a condition of his probation. Nearly a year later M.M. was discharged from probation, but the juvenile court refused to terminate his remaining restitution obligation of $473.
In M.M. v. State of Indiana
, 49A02-1409-JV-639, the teen argued that the juvenile court erred as a matter of law when it refused to end his restitution obligation after he was discharged from probation. Judge Edward Najam noted that I.C. 31-37-19-5(b)(4), which allows a juvenile court to order a juvenile to pay restitution, is silent as to whether the court must terminate that obligation upon the minor’s discharge from probation when the restitution had been made a condition of the juvenile’s probation.
The judges looked to I.C. 35-50-5-3, the adult restitution statute, for guidance and determined that it is instructive on this issue. Under the adult restitution statute, when restitution is made a condition of an adult’s probation, the probationer must still pay the restitution.
“A juvenile restitution order results from an act that would be a crime if committed by an adult, and, thus, it is equivalent to an adult restitution order. The rationale for not terminating a restitution obligation upon the discharge of an adult probationer from his probation applies with equal force in the juvenile context. Thus, we hold that, as a matter of law, M.M’s restitution obligation did not terminate upon his discharge from probation, and we affirm the juvenile court,” Najam wrote.
The judges did remand the matter to the juvenile court to correct an error in its judgment for payment of unpaid court-ordered financial obligations. That order stated that M.M. was required to pay the restitution balance as well as $118.25 in court fees. But at that same hearing, the court also entered a review order that states the court waived fees and costs against M.M. based on the finding that he was “indigent to those matters.”