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State v. N.B.

Court of Appeals of Indiana

January 10, 2020

State of Indiana, Appellant-Plaintiff,
v.
N.B., Appellee-Defendant,

          Appeal from the Madison Circuit Court The Honorable G. George Pancol, Judge Trial Court Cause No. 48C02-1811-JD-390

          Attorneys for Appellant Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General of Indiana Angela N. Sanchez Assistant Section Chief, Criminal Appeals Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indiana

          Attorney for Appellee Leanna Weissmann Lawrenceburg, Indiana

          ROBB, JUDGE.

         Case Summary and Issue

         [¶1] The State filed a delinquency petition alleging that N.B. had committed acts that, if committed by an adult, would constitute child molesting, a Class B felony, and also filed a petition to waive juvenile jurisdiction. N.B. filed a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction due to his age, and the juvenile court granted the motion. The State appeals and presents one issue for our review, which we restate as whether the juvenile court had subject matter jurisdiction to entertain the State's delinquency petition and request for waiver of juvenile jurisdiction. Concluding the juvenile court had jurisdiction to entertain the petition and determine whether N.B. should be waived to adult criminal court, we reverse and remand for further proceedings.

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶2] In June 2018, T.C. informed her therapist that her cousin, N.B., had fondled her vagina about six years prior. T.C. stated that N.B. had been fifteen or sixteen at the time of the offense and, at the time of her disclosure, N.B. was twenty-one or twenty-two years old. Law enforcement began investigating T.C.'s allegations.

         [¶3] On November 5, 2018, the State filed a request for authorization to file a petition alleging that N.B. is a delinquent child for committing acts that, if committed by an adult, would constitute child molesting. See State's Appendix of Appellant, Volume II at 13. The same day, the juvenile court approved the request and the State filed its petition alleging delinquency. On November 13, N.B. pleaded guilty to criminal confinement resulting in bodily injury, a Level 5 felony, in an unrelated matter.[1] The State subsequently filed a motion for waiver of juvenile jurisdiction and the juvenile court scheduled a hearing on the matter.

         [¶4] While the State's motion was pending, on February 26, 2019, the State filed an amended motion for waiver of juvenile jurisdiction asserting that N.B. was a child who had been previously convicted of a felony - specifically, N.B. had been convicted of criminal confinement resulting in bodily injury, a Level 5 felony, on November 13, 2018. See id. at 33.[2] The State subsequently submitted a brief in which it 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.[3] See id. at 48-49. The scheduled waiver hearing was continued several times.

         [¶5] On May 24, 2019, N.B. filed a motion to dismiss alleging that the juvenile court lacked jurisdiction over him because he cannot be considered a "child" under the delinquency statute as he was no longer under age twenty-one. See id. at 66. Therefore, N.B. argued that the juvenile court lacked personal jurisdiction over him and the court "may not proceed in this matter and must dismiss it with prejudice." Id. at 68.[4] N.B. attached to his motion a copy of this court's decision in M.C. v. State, 127 N.E.3d 1178 (Ind.Ct.App. 2019), in which a panel of this court agreed with the parties that the juvenile court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to adjudicate a twenty-two year old defendant delinquent and enter a disposition. The State filed a response and argued the following:

4. [N.B.] cites the case of M.C. v. State as support for his Motion to Dismiss which is inapplicable to the case at bar.
5. M.C. [v]. State merely stands for the proposition that the juvenile court lacks jurisdiction to enter an adjudication against an adult over the age ...

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