COA reverses teen’s intimidation adjudication for insufficient evidence

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A teenager who lashed out at her mother and sister before causing property damage has convinced the Court of Appeals of Indiana to overturn her delinquency adjudication for intimidation.

Seventeen-year-old A.V. and her daughter lived with her mother and younger sister in an apartment in December 2021.

On Dec. 16, A.V., wanting to sleep, got into an argument with her sister, who was doing e-learning. But her mother stepped in and told A.V. to leave her sister alone because it was 8 a.m.

A.V. then became “very angry like she was out of control” and “cussed” at her mother. The mother then locked herself, her younger daughter and her granddaughter in a bedroom.

In response, A.V. banged on the door and told her mother to open the door so that she could see her daughter. The mother refused and called police.

A.V. then “broke the Christmas tree,” made a hole in the wall next to the front door, and grabbed eggs from the fridge and threw them at her mother’s car.

A.V. also told her mother, “Sometimes I feel like I want to kill you.”

Police responded, and the state filed a petition alleging A.V. was a delinquent child for committing acts that would constitute Level 6 felony intimidation and Class B misdemeanor criminal mischief if committed by an adult. Regarding the intimidation allegation, the state alleged A.V. had “communicate[d] a threat [to] kill” with the intent to place her mother in fear of retaliation for the prior lawful act of “enforcing a CHINS order[.]”

At the conclusion of a factfinding hearing in February, a juvenile court determined A.V. had committed the acts of intimidation and criminal mischief as alleged and entered true findings for the offenses. Following a dispositional hearing, the juvenile court placed A.V. on probation.

On appeal, A.V. argued there wasn’t sufficient evidence to support her adjudications.

Pointing to the evidence of the destruction A.V. caused to the apartment, the Court of Appeals affirmed the criminal mischief adjudication.

She did, however, convince judges to reverse the intimidation adjudication.

Looking at Casey v. State, 676 N.E.2d 1069 (Ind. Ct. App. 1997), the COA found that even if it were to assume A.V.’s statement constituted a threat, there was insufficient evidence that any threat was made with the intent that her mother be placed in fear of retaliation for a prior lawful act.

“Here, the State specifically alleged that the prior lawful act was Mother’s act of ‘enforcing a CHINS order[.]’ However, during the factfinding hearing, the State presented no testimony or other evidence regarding a CHINS order or the enforcement thereof,” Judge Rudolph Pyle III wrote.

“… Because there was insufficient evidence that A.V. acted with the intent that Mother be placed in fear of retaliation for the prior lawful act of enforcing a prior CHINS order, we reverse A.V.’s intimidation adjudication,” Pyle wrote in A.V. v. State of Indiana, 22A-JV-753.

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