Juvenile confinement adjudications reversed, DOC commitment affirmed

A juvenile adjudicated as a delinquent for armed robbery will remain in the Department of Correction, though the Indiana Court of Appeals reversed his adjudications for criminal confinement in a Thursday decision.

In January 2017, D.J., along with three other juveniles, entered an apartment building and ordered four children playing in a stairwell to give them their money and cellphones. When 12-year-old R.R., one of the children, refused, one of D.J.’s cohorts held a gun to R.R. and his 12-year-old cousin’s head and chests until they complied.

When the young children reported what had happened, R.R.’s father went searching for the perpetrators and found them at a gas station. Police were then called, and after the children identified D.J., he was placed under arrest.

The state filed a delinquency petition against D.J., alleging he committed two counts of armed robbery and two counts of criminal confinement against R.R. and his cousin, all Level 3 felonies if committed by an adult. The Marion Superior Court entered true findings against D.J. on each of the allegations and adjudicated him as a delinquent child, prompting his appeal in D.J. v. State of Indiana, 49A05-1704-JV-673.

On appeal, D.J. first argued the true findings violate double jeopardy protections in the Indiana Constitution. After dismissing the state’s argument that double jeopardy prohibitions don’t apply to juvenile proceedings, the Indiana Court of Appeals agreed the true findings against D.J. violate double jeopardy protections.

Judge Margret Robb wrote there was a reasonable possibility the trial court used identical evidentiary facts — including the facts that D.J. and his cohorts entered the apartment building and robbed two of the children at gunpoint — to convict D.J. of armed robbery and criminal confinement.

Robb went on to say the confinement was no greater than what was necessary to complete the robbery, so there was no less serious form to reduce the offenses to. Instead, she noted the juvenile court committed D.J. to the Indiana Department of Correction, which is permissible under Indiana Code section 31-37-19-9(b) when a delinquent has committed armed robbery. Thus, the appellate panel let the disposition stand and reversed D.J.’s adjudications for criminal confinement.

D.J. also raised a sufficiency of the evidence argument, which the appellate court rejected. Robb pointed specifically to evidence of D.J.’s presence during the commission of the crime, his willingness to participate and his decision to flee the scene as sufficient evidence to support his conviction.

The case is D.J. v. State of Indiana, 49A05-1704-JV-673.

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