Dismissal reversed in teen child-molesting case

A young adult accused of child molesting when he was a teenager has had his granted motion to dismiss a delinquency petition against him reversed. The Indiana Court of Appeals found the juvenile court had subject matter jurisdiction in the case.

In State of Indiana v. N.B.,19A-JV-1659, the state petitioned juvenile N.B. to be adjudicated delinquent for committing acts that would constitute Class B felony child molesting if committed by an adult. N.B., who was 15 or 16 years old at the time of the crime, was 21 or 22 at the time the act was disclosed by the victim.

Meanwhile, N.B. pleaded guilty to Level 5 felony criminal confinement resulting in bodily injury in an unrelated matter, prompting the state to subsequently file a motion for waiver of juvenile jurisdiction on the molesting charge. The state argued that, due to N.B.’s prior felony conviction, the juvenile court must waive N.B. to adult criminal court pursuant to Indiana Code section 31-30-3-6.

N.B. filed a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction because he was no longer under age 21, which was granted by the Madison Circuit Court. On appeal, the state argued the juvenile court had subject matter jurisdiction to entertain its delinquency petition and request for waiver of juvenile jurisdiction.

The Indiana Court of Appeals agreed with the state, reversing the juvenile court’s decision and finding that it had jurisdiction to entertain the petition and determine whether N.B. should be waived to adult criminal court.

“The issue here stems from an apparent confusion between the juvenile court’s jurisdiction to enter an adjudication against an adult defendant and its ability to accept and entertain a delinquency petition and waiver to adult court,” Judge Margret Robb wrote for the appellate panel.

“Together [M.C. v. State, 127 N.E.3d 1178 (Ind. Ct. App. 2019)] and [D. P. v. State of Indiana, 19A-JV-690] stand for the proposition that a juvenile court has subject matter jurisdiction to entertain a delinquency petition and waive a defendant to adult criminal court but does not have jurisdiction to adjudicate a defendant over age twenty-one a delinquent child and enter a disposition.

“Applying that proposition here, we conclude the juvenile court in this case had subject matter jurisdiction to entertain the State’s delinquency petition and determine whether to waive N.B. to adult criminal court. The juvenile court, however, would not have jurisdiction to adjudicate N.B. a delinquent and enter a disposition,” the appellate panel concluded.

It therefore remanded to the juvenile court with instructions to rule on the state’s motion for waiver.

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