State v. I.T. — Use of Mental Health Treatment Disclosures

State v. I.T., decided on March 12, 2014, addresses the use of I.C. 31-32-2-2.5(b), which the Court calls the Juvenile Mental Health Statute.  The statute provides that, in general, “a statement communicated to an evaluator in the evaluator’s official capacity may not be admitted as evidence against the child on the issue of whether the child committed a delinquent act or a crime,” except for purposes of a probation revocation proceeding or a modification of disposition decree.

In this case, during the course of treatment ordered as a condition of probation, I.T. revealed additional delinquent behavior and those admissions were used by the State to file additional allegations of delinquency by the child.  The defense argued, and the Court supported, that evidence derived from I.T.’s statements were protected by use immunity and derivative use immunity to encourage the child to participate “openly in treatment to reduce their likelihood of reoffending. Also, by participating in treatment, the juvenile may reveal previously unknown victims, and the reporting requirements [that the allegations be reported to the Indiana Department of Child Services for investigation] enable the victims to receive treatment as well.”

The Court also found that the State may appeal a juvenile court order that suppresses evidence, if doing so terminates the proceeding.

Note:  According to the trial-level defense attorney, Michelle McCuen, Pete Todd assisted with the appeal on behalf of the child, but his participation was not noted in the published opinion.

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