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T.H. v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

October 27, 2017

T.H., Appellant-Defendant,
v.
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff

         Appeal from the Marion Superior Court The Honorable Marilyn Moores, Judge The Honorable Geoffrey Gaither, Magistrate, Trial Court Cause No. 49D09-1607-JD-1198

          Attorney for Appellant Ruth Ann Johnson Deborah Markisohn Marion County Public Defender Appellate Division.

          Attorneys for Appellee Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General of Indiana James B. Martin Deputy Attorney General.

          May, Judge.

          [¶1] T.H. appeals his adjudication as a delinquent child based on the trial court finding he had committed an act that, if committed by an adult, would be Class A misdemeanor criminal mischief.[1] T.H. argues the State failed to prove he committed the $750 in damages required for the Class A misdemeanor finding. We agree and order the trial court to correct its records to indicate T.H.'s adjudication was based on his commission of an act that would be Class B misdemeanor criminal mischief if committed by an adult.

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶2] In the second half of July 2016, T.H. threw a brick through the passenger side window of Maria Castro's 2006 Toyota Sienna. T.H.'s mother saw him throw the brick and immediately called the police. T.H. was arrested and taken to the Juvenile Detention Center. On July 25, 2016, the State filed a delinquency petition alleging T.H. had committed an act that, if committed by an adult, would be Class A misdemeanor criminal mischief:

On or about the 22nd day of July, 2016, said child did recklessly, knowingly or intentionally damage or deface the property of Maria Castro . . . by having thrown an object which broke Castro's car window, in an amount greater than seven hundred fifty dollars ($750) but less than fifty thousand dollars ($50, 000).

(Appellant's App. Vol. II at 16.)

         [¶3] After an informal adjustment failed, the court held a fact-finding hearing as to the allegation. The State called Castro, who testified she owned a 2006 Sienna and, on July 22, 2016, "the window on the passenger side was broken and there was a big rock- in fact, it scratched the dashboard of the vehicle[.]" (Tr. at 33.) Castro explained she took the car to a Toyota dealership between Lafayette Road and Georgetown Road and asked for an estimate for repair of the damage, and then she returned later to get the car and the estimate. When asked whether she had the vehicle repaired, she testified: "They just put the glass on because my husband needed to work[.]" (Id. at 36.) She did not know how much that repair had cost or where the vehicle had been repaired.

         [¶4] Counsel for T.H. then cross-examined Castro about the estimate, pointing out numerous irregularities that called into question the validity of the estimate. The trial court found T.H. had committed criminal mischief that caused more than $750 in damages, which would have been a Class A misdemeanor, and adjudicated him a juvenile delinquent. The trial court did not issue an order of restitution, choosing instead "to release the records for the purpose of civil litigation." (Id. at 53.)

         Discussion and Decision

         [¶5] When an appellant challenges the sufficiency of evidence to support a trial court's findings, we will consider only probative evidence in the light most favorable to the trial court's judgment. Binkley v. State, 654 N.E.2d 736, 737 (Ind. 1995), reh'g denied. The decision comes before us with a presumption of legitimacy, and we will not substitute our judgment for that of the fact-finder. Id. We do not assess the credibility of the witnesses or reweigh the evidence in determining whether the evidence is sufficient. Drane v. State, 867 N.E.2d 144, 146 (Ind. 2007). Reversal is appropriate only when no reasonable fact-finder could find the elements of the crime proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Id. Thus, the evidence is not required to overcome every reasonable hypothesis of innocence and is sufficient if an inference may reasonably be drawn from it to support the verdict. Id. at 147.

         [¶6] The trial court found T.H. committed Class A misdemeanor criminal mischief, which is defined as:

A person who recklessly, knowingly, or intentionally damages or defaces property of another person without the other person's consent commits criminal mischief, a Class B misdemeanor. However, the offense is:
(1) a Class A misdemeanor if the pecuniary loss is at least seven hundred fifty dollars ($750) but less than fifty ...

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