Keeping Kids in Juvenile Court — Amending Direct File Laws

Continuing on the theme of keeping kids in juvenile court, this New York Times article details recent developments in juvenile brain development research and the movements across the country to keep more children in juvenile court and out of criminal court and adult prisons.

The article speaks about prosecutor discretion during the filing of charges that can impact the path of the case.  That issue exists in Indiana also.  If the child is at least sixteen years old and the prosecutor chooses to file any charge on a statutory list, the case will be excluded from juvenile court jurisdiction and will be filed in criminal court without a waiver of jurisdiction hearing.  The case will remain in criminal court, even if the child later pleads out to a lesser offense that would have normally been handled in juvenile court.  IC 31-30-1-4(c).

Pursuant to IC 31-30-1-4(a) and (b), the list of “direct file” offenses include:

(1) IC 35-41-5-1(a) (attempted murder);

(2) IC 35-42-1-1 (murder);

(3) IC 35-42-3-2 (kidnapping);

(4) IC 35-42-4-1 (rape);

(5) IC 35-42-4-2 (criminal deviate conduct) (repealed);

(6) IC 35-42-5-1 (robbery) if: (A) the robbery was committed while armed with a deadly weapon; or (B) the robbery results in bodily injury or serious bodily injury;

(7) IC 35-42-5-2 (carjacking) (repealed);

(8) IC 35-45-9-3 (criminal gang activity);

(9) IC 35-45-9-4 (criminal gang intimidation);

(10) IC 35-47-2-1 (carrying a handgun without a license), if charged as a felony;

(11) IC 35-47-10 (children and firearms), if charged as a felony;

(12) IC 35-47-5-4.1 (dealing in a sawed-off shotgun);

(13) any offense that may be joined under IC 35-34-1-9(a)(2) with any crime listed in subdivisions (1) through (12); if the individual was at least sixteen (16) years of age at the time of the alleged violation; or

(14) manufacturing or dealing in cocaine or a narcotic drug (IC 35-48-4-1), dealing in methamphetamine (IC 35-48-4-1.1), dealing in a schedule I, II, or III controlled substance (IC 35-48-4-2), or dealing in a schedule IV controlled substance (IC 35-48-4-3), if: (1) the individual has a prior unrelated conviction under IC 35-48-4-1, IC 35-48-4-1.1, IC 35-48-4-2, or IC 35-48-4-3; or (2) the individual has a prior unrelated juvenile adjudication that, if committed by an adult, would be a crime under IC 35-48-4-1, IC 35-48-4-1.1, IC 35-48-4-2, or IC 35-48-4-3; and the individual was at least sixteen (16) years of age at the time of the alleged violation.

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