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State v. D.R.

Court of Appeals of Indiana

February 13, 2019

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

          Appeal from the Vigo Circuit Court Trial Court Cause No. 84C01-1804-JD-417 The Honorable Sarah K. Mullican, Judge The Honorable Daniel W. Kelly, Magistrate

          Attorneys for Appellant Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General of Indiana Justin F. Roebel Supervising Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indiana

          Attorneys for Appellee Joel M. Schumm Riley L. Parr Certified Legal Intern Appellate Clinic Indiana University McKinney School of Law Indianapolis, Indiana


         Statement of the Case

         [¶1] The State filed a petition alleging that D.R. is a juvenile delinquent. The State also moved the juvenile court to waive jurisdiction over D.R. and transfer the case to criminal court. The court denied the State's motion. In this discretionary interlocutory appeal, the State asks this Court to determine that the juvenile court should have waived jurisdiction over D.R. D.R. cross-appeals, requesting dismissal of the State's appeal. We deny D.R.'s request to dismiss the appeal and affirm the judgment of the juvenile court.


         [¶2] The State raises one issue, which we restate as: whether the juvenile court abused its discretion in denying the State's request to waive juvenile jurisdiction over D.R. On cross-appeal, D.R. argues that the State has no authority to seek discretionary interlocutory review of a juvenile court's refusal to waive jurisdiction over a juvenile.

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶3] We set forth the facts as alleged in the probable cause affidavit and at the evidentiary hearing on the State's motion to waive jurisdiction, keeping in mind that the juvenile court has not yet held a final hearing on the merits of the State's case. On April 6, 2018, an officer was dispatched to investigate an automobile accident in Vigo County. One of the drivers, Regina Hair, was trapped in her vehicle, unconscious. She died later that day.

         [¶4] Seventeen-year-old D.R., who was standing near his vehicle with another minor, stated that he had also been involved in the accident. He told the officer that he was driving when he crossed the center line and struck Hair's car head-on. A witness at the scene stated that D.R. had passed him on a double-yellow line at a high rate of speed prior to the accident. The witness "suspected" that D.R. had been racing another vehicle that had also passed him. Tr. p. 57.

         [¶5] D.R. had dilated pupils and bloodshot eyes, but a portable breath test showed .000% blood alcohol content. D.R.'s passenger told an officer that D.R. had smoked marijuana earlier that day. Emergency medical personnel transported D.R. to a hospital for treatment. Hospital personnel tested D.R.'s urine and discovered the presence of marijuana. Later in the evening, an assessment worker with the Vigo County Department of Child Services (DCS) performed a drug screen on D.R., and the screen showed 3.3 nanograms of THC in his blood. The DCS employee characterized the result as "low level." Id. at 40.

         [¶6] The State took D.R. into custody after he was released from medical care. On April 10, 2018, the State filed a petition alleging D.R. was a delinquent child. The State claimed D.R. had committed acts that, if committed by an adult, would have amounted to the offenses of reckless homicide, a Level 5 felony; and operating a vehicle with a controlled substance or its metabolite in the person's blood resulting in death, a Level 5 felony. The State also filed a motion for waiver of juvenile court jurisdiction. The court determined there was probable cause to detain D.R. D.R., by counsel, requested a psychological evaluation, and the court granted his request.

         [¶7] On May 24, 2018, the juvenile court held a hearing on the State's motion to waive jurisdiction. That same day, the court denied the motion, concluding "the minor has proven by a preponderance of the evidence that waiver of juvenile jurisdiction would not be in the best interests of the minor and the safety and welfare of the community." Appellant's App. Vol. 2, p. 44.

         [¶8] The State filed a motion to correct error. On June 6, 2018, the juvenile court denied the State's motion to correct error, reaffirming that "the presumption in favor of waiver has been overcome." Id. at 55. The court later ordered D.R. to be placed in a residential treatment facility pending disposition of the case and, at D.R.'s request, further ordered that he be enrolled in a high school equivalency program while at the facility.

         [¶9] Next, the State filed a motion to certify orders for interlocutory appeal. The juvenile court granted the motion, and the State asked this Court to accept jurisdiction over the appeal. On August 3, 2018, this Court's motions panel accepted the appeal.

         Discussion and Decision

         I. Cross-Appeal - Appellate Jurisdiction

         [¶10] We first address D.R.'s cross-appeal claim. D.R. argues that the State lacks the

authority to seek interlocutory review of the juvenile court's denial of a motion to waive jurisdiction. Whether the State may appeal the court's order is a question of law. State v. I.T., 4 N.E.3d 1139, 1142 (Ind. ...

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