Despite conflicting statutes, COA affirms juvenile gun adjudication

A juvenile dangerous possession of a firearm adjudication has been upheld by the Indiana Court of Appeals despite the finding that state statutes in play in his case are in conflict.

The COA affirmed K.C.G.’s adjudication for Class A misdemeanor dangerous possession of a firearm, despite the fact it is not a crime that can be committed by an adult, as required under the juvenile adjudication statute.

The dangerous possession statute, Indiana Code § 35-47-10-5(a), applies to “a child” who possesses a firearm, while the statute governing juvenile delinquency adjudications, I.C. § 31-37-1-2, requires a showing that a minor committed an act that “would be an offense if committed by an adult.” K.S.G. argued that because an adult cannot be charged with dangerous possession, he could not be adjudicated delinquent.

In seeking to harmonize the conflicting statutes, the panel looked to C.C. v. State, 907 N.E.2d 556 (Ind. Ct. App. 2009). “Based on the plain language of Indiana Code section 31-30-1-1, the court determined C.C.’s case was an instance in which the juvenile court had original jurisdiction as set forth in Indiana Code section 31-30-1-1(14) over ‘other proceedings specified by law,’” Judge Melissa May wrote.

The panel noted that the C.C. court held, “From a common sense standpoint, if we were to follow C.C.’s reasoning to its illogical conclusion, his misdemeanor violation of the firearm statute would not fall within the jurisdiction of either the juvenile court or the adult criminal court and thus would go unpunished. We do not think this was the legislature’s intent.

“… If C.C. had been an incorrect interpretation of the Legislature’s intent, the Indiana State Legislature could have remedied the situation by passing a new statute in the intervening years. This leads us to conclude the Indiana State Legislature’s intent is evident — those under the age of eighteen may be adjudicated delinquents for offenses that would be crimes if committed by adults and for crimes that can be committed only by those under eighteen … ,” May wrote.

The panel also concluded the evidence was sufficient to support the adjudication in K.C.G. v. State of Indiana, 19A-JV-978.

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