COA: Court cannot order juvenile to pay restitution as a civil judgment

The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled a trial court may not order a juvenile to pay restitution as a civil judgment after a minor was ordered to pay restitution in two cases where he violated his probation.

J.B. violated his probation in four causes and the trial court held a disposition hearing, ordering him to pay $500 in restitution in each of the two causes. Later, the trial court reduced the orders to civil judgments and added judgment fees of $252.50 and $315.63. Three days later, the court entered a separate judgment ordering $500 in restitution for the same two causes and a $250 civil judgment fee.

J.B. then filed a motion to correct error and rescind order for the civil judgment fee asking for clarification on which order he was supposed to follow and asking to rescind the order in both. The trial court rescinded the first order but not the second. J.B. appealed.

After J.B. appealed, the court rescinded the second order as well, rendering the case moot, but the COA in an opinion written by Judge Melissa May said it would still rule on the merits of a case because of public interest. She also noted that whether a juvenile court may reduce a restitution order to a civil judgment has not been addressed in any published Indiana opinion.

May wrote there is no judgment lien in Ind. Code 31-37-19-5(b)(4) in the juvenile statute and the COA is not going to read into the code a provision not expressly stated. Because of that, the trial court did not have the authority to order J.B. to pay the restitution owed his victims as a civil judgment.

The case is J.B. v. State of Indiana, 49A02-1509-JV-1372.

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