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J.R. v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

December 8, 2017

J.R., Appellant-Respondent,
State of Indiana, Appellee-Petitioner

         Appeal from the Marion Superior Court Trial Court Cause No. 49D09-1701-JD-70 Honorable Marilyn A. Moores, Judge

          Joel M. Schumm Indianapolis, Indiana Attorney for Appellant

          Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General of Indiana Ellen H. Meilaender Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indiana Attorneys for Appellee

          Baker, Judge.

         [¶1] The juvenile court entered true findings that J.R. was delinquent for committing acts that would be dangerous possession of a firearm[1] and carrying a handgun without a license, [2] had they been committed by an adult. J.R. appeals, arguing that the police, when conducting a pat-down search, violated his rights under the United States and Indiana Constitutions to be free from unreasonable searches and that the dual adjudications violate double jeopardy principles. Finding that the pat-down search did not violate his rights, but that the adjudication for carrying a handgun without a license must be vacated, we affirm the adjudication for dangerous possession of a firearm, vacate the adjudication for carrying a handgun without a license, and remand with instructions.


         [¶2] At approximately 8:30 p.m. on January 10, 2017, a police dispatch advised that "three black males" wearing "dark clothing" were "trying to open vehicles and take items out of cars" in a Family Dollar parking lot on the east side of Indianapolis. Tr. p. 8-9. When Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Officer Richard Christian responded to the scene, he saw three Black males, two of whom were trying to enter a vehicle while the third was standing behind it. No one else was at the scene. After Officer Christian shined his light on them, the three males fled the area. The officer described one of the men as wearing "dark clothing" and another one as "sorta tall, maybe five-ten . . . with a black jacket and a white stripe." Id. at 9.

         [¶3] Meanwhile, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Officer Nicholas Snow, who had been on the force for only a few months, and Field Training Officer Mark Klonne were patrolling a nearby area. After hearing the dispatch regarding the fleeing suspects, they went to help set up a perimeter. Approximately five minutes later, Officer Snow exited his vehicle and stopped sixteen-year-old J.R. and another young man as they walked down a street in Indianapolis because they matched the description of two of the suspects. Both J.R. and the other man were wearing black; J.R. had "white Adidas stripes down his sleeve." Id. at 21. J.R. told Officer Snow that "I'm not f**king talking to you" and walked away. Id. at 27. Officer Snow tried to catch up, but J.R. began walking faster and disregarded another order to stop. At that point, Officer Snow grabbed J.R. and placed him in handcuffs.

         [¶4] Officer Snow decided to conduct a pat-down search of J.R. because the officer "was in danger of losing eyesight of Officer Klonne, " who was with the other young man. Id. at 33. Officer Snow patted down J.R.'s waist and the area behind his back where his hands were cuffed. The officer did not find anything during his search, and he walked J.R. back to the patrol car.

         [¶5] When they were back at the patrol car, Officer Snow asked J.R. questions to ascertain his identity and why he had refused to stop. Officer Snow observed that J.R. was "moving his legs in such a manner" and turning as if he was "trying to adjust something, " even after being asked to stop moving. Id. at 34. Officer Snow conducted a second pat-down that included a "pant sweep . . . up the left leg all the way to the groin." Id. at 39. Officer Snow felt a hard, cylindrical object that he believed to be a gun, which he seized. He stated that he found the gun "tracking the left side of his pants up underneath his groin . . . concealed in-between . . . really his hip joint and, . . . where his scrotum would be. It was tucked that far up into his body." Id. at 43.

         [¶6] On January 13, 2017, the State filed a petition alleging that J.R. had committed dangerous possession of a firearm and carrying a handgun without a license, both Class A misdemeanors if committed by an adult. A factfinding hearing took place on February 9, 2017, after which the juvenile court entered true findings on both allegations. On March 14, 2017, a dispositional hearing took place, and the juvenile court placed J.R. on probation with a suspended commitment to the Department of Correction. J.R. now appeals.

         Discussion and Decision

         I. Search and Seizure

         [¶7] J.R. argues that because there was no reasonable suspicion that he was armed, his rights under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article 1, Section 11 of the Indiana Constitution were violated when the police conducted a pat-down search, and as a result, the ...

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