Waiving a Juvenile to Adult Court in Indiana

Understanding How a Juvenile Get’s Waived to Adult Court in Indiana:

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 Most people assume, and rightfully so, that so long as you or a loved one isn’t an adult at the time a criminal offense is committed, you can’t be tried as an adult. While in principal that sounds right, and in practice that is mostly right, you might be surprised to hear that isn’t always the case. Most often it depends on the level of offense charged and the juvenile’s criminal history. Moreover, while people have a tangential understanding that there is a difference between being prosecuted as an adult as opposed to a juvenile, they’d be shocked to see just how different the two jurisdictions are and can be. In this blog the Indianapolis Criminal Defense Attorneys look to give a general outline of juvenile law and waiver.
For example, here are a few, but by no means all inclusive differences between the two:
(1) Juvenile cases end in “true findings” while adult cases result in “convictions” that stick with you for life.
(2) At the juvenile level, all cases are private in nature, while adult cases are open to the public to see, watch, and follow.
(3) At the juvenile level, there are a lot more options for rehabilitation as that is the focus, while the adult level focuses more on punishment.
(4) At the juvenile level the courts act in loco parentis, or “in place of the parents,” which basically gives the court system the ability to step in and make decision that may be in the best interest of the child. Compare that to the adult level courts where all defendants are considered adults and parents have no say in the administration of the sentence and/or punishment.
(5) Finally, while juvenile’s are afforded most of the constitutional rights of an adult there are two big differences: (1) bond – as a juvenile you aren’t entitled to one for a crime at any level, while adults are afforded one in most level crimes outside of murder, (2) search & seizure – at the juvenile level, parents have the authority and right to be included in property related searches/seizures, arrests, and many other legal decisions. Obviously, at the adult level, parents play no role.
In reviewing the statutes on point in Indiana, the legislature has specifically drafted six main statutes that address the issue of when a “juvenile,” that being a child under eighteen (18) years old, can be waived or transferred into adult court. IC 31-30-3-1 through IC 31-30-1-6 are the controlling Indiana statutes and they will be explained below by the statutory qualifiers:


 AT LEAST 14 YEARS OLD, WAS A HEINOUS ACT OR REPETITIVE BAD BEHAVIOR, BEYOND REHABILITATION, AND SOCIETY WOULD BENEFIT:

 IC 31-30-3-2 is perhaps the most forbidding of the statutes as it lowers the age requirement for waiver to adult court from 16 to 14, and allows the court to consider a juvenile’s past criminal history of repetitive acts to graduate him to adult court. That section of the statute states that upon motion by the state of Indiana and after a full investigation and hearing, the juvenile court may waive jurisdiction of a juvenile to adult court if:
(1)   the child is charged with an act that is a felony:

  1. that is “heinous or aggravated” with more weight given to crimes against people rather than property; or
  2. that is part of a repetitive pattern of delinquent acts even if less serious,

(2)   the juvenile was at least fourteen (14) when the act was committed
(3)   the child is beyond rehabilitation under the juvenile system; and
(4)   it is in society’s best interest for safety and welfare to have the child tried as an adult.


 

 AT LEAST 16 YEARS OLD, WAS A DRUG OFFENSE, AND SOCIETY WOULD BENEFIT:

 IC 31-30-3-3 states the court may waive jurisdiction if it finds that the child is charged with an act that, if committed by an adult, would be a felony under IC 35-48-4 (drug offenses); there is probable cause . . .; the child was at least sixteen (16) years of age when the act was allegedly committed; and it is in the best interest of the safety and the welfare of the community for the child to stand trial as an adult.


 

 MURDER WITH DEFENDANT AT LEAST 10 YEARS OLD

 IC 31-30-3-4 states that upon motion by the prosecutor and after a full investigation and hearing, a juvenile WILL be waived to adult court if it is found that:
(1)   the child is being charged with murder
(2)   there is probable cause to believe the child has committed the act, and
(3)   the child was at least ten (10) years old when the act was committed,
unless it would be in the child’s best interest and the safety of the community to remain in juvenile court.


 

 AT LEAST 16 YEARS OLD, LEVEL 1, 2, 3, OR 4 NON-DRUG FELONIES, INVOLUNTARY MANSLAUGHTER AND/OR RECKLESS HOMICIDE

 IC 31-30-3-5 states the court shall, upon motion of the prosecuting attorney . . . waive jurisdiction if it finds that:
(1)   the child is charged with an act that, if committed by an adult, would be:

  1. a Level 1 felony, Level 2 felony, Level 3 felony, or Level 4 felony, except a felony defined by IC 35-48-4 (drug offenses);
  2. involuntary manslaughter as a Level 5 felony; or
  3. reckless homicide as a Level 5 felony;
  4. there is probable cause that the child committed the acts,
  5. the child was at least sixteen (16) years of age when the act charged was allegedly committed; and it would be in the best interests of the child and of the safety and welfare of the community for the child to remain within the juvenile justice system.

 

 NO AGE REQUIREMENT BECAUSE PRIOR FELONY OR NON-TRAFFIC MISDEMEANOR

 IC 31-30-3-6 states that upon motion of the prosecutor, the juvenile court shall waive a child to adult court if:
(1)   the child is currently charged with an act that would be a felony if committed by an adult, and
(2)   the child has a previous conviction for a felony or non-traffic misdemeanor.


 
 
The timeline by which the prosecutor can file a waiver of juvenile is explained in IC 31-30-3-7, whereby the statute states that a juvenile must be waived prior to: (1) the child admitting the allegations in the petition at the initial hearing, or (2) the first witness being sworn in at the fact finding hearing.
As anyone can see, the ramifications for how these decisions are made couldn’t be higher. As discussed above, the differences between the juvenile and adult systems is enormous and life altering. That’s why it’s essential that you hire an attorney that is a strong litigator and has experience in the adult and juvenile law setting. The attorneys at Banks & Brower Law Firm are both former prosecutors and have experiences in both settings. Give the experienced Indianapolis Criminal Defense Attorneys at Banks & Brower, LLC, a call today, 24/7/365, at 317.870.0019 or email us at info@banksbrower.com.