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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Ind. Decisions - Supreme Court posts two juvenile sentencing opinions - dated 9/12/06

In J.D. v. State of Indiana, an 8-page, 5-0 opinion, Justice Sullivan writes:

In this delinquency case, J.D. was sentenced to a fixed term of one year. He seeks credit against that one-year term for the 35 days he was confined prior to sentencing. We hold that requiring credit for the time a juvenile has spent in pre-disposition confinement would impermissibly impinge upon the juvenile court’s broad authority to fashion dispositional alternatives. * * *

We believe that the inherent differences between the juvenile delinquency and adult criminal justice systems dictate that a juvenile offender is not entitled to credit for time served in detention prior to sentencing. A key feature of the Juvenile Code is the broad range of alterna-tives a juvenile court judge has available once a child has been found by the court to be “a delin-quent child,” i.e., to have committed an act that would be a crime if committed by an adult. In the vocabulary of the Juvenile Code, these alternatives are called “dispositions” and the judge enters a “dispositional decree” (rather than a sentencing order). In its dispositional decree, de-pending upon the circumstances of the particular case, the court can, e.g., order supervision of the child by the probation department, order “wardship” of the child to the Department of Cor-rection (“DOC”), or order confinement in a juvenile detention center, as well as order various other sanctions and treatment. See Ind. Code §§ 31-37-19-5, 31-37-19-6, 31-37-19-8, 31-37-19-9 & 31-37-19-10 (2004). * * *

The broad authority of the juvenile court to fashion dispositional alternatives for juvenile offenders discussed in cases like N.D.F. and Tina T. leads us to conclude that the law does not require that a juvenile offender be provided credit for time served in pre-disposition detention. Expressed in the positive, the juvenile court’s broad authority to fashion dispositional alterna-tives extends to discretion over how much, if any, of the time the juvenile offender has spent in pre-disposition confinement is entitled to credit. Expressed in the negative, requiring credit for the time a juvenile has spent in pre-disposition confinement would impermissibly impinge upon the juvenile court’s broad authority to fashion dispositional alternatives. * * *

We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

In A.E. v. State of Indiana, a 4-page, 5-0 opinion, Justice Sullivan writes:
In this delinquency case, A.E. was sentenced to a fixed term of 18 months. Reversing the trial court, the Court of Appeals held that he was entitled to credit against that 18-month term for the 99 days he was confined between the dates of his arrest and his dispositional hearing. In ac-cordance with another case we decide today, J.D. v. State, we hold that the trial court was not required to credit the time served in pre-disposition confinement against his determinate sentence.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on September 13, 2006 11:37 AM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions