Double Jeopardy Test Applies to Juvenile Adjudications

C.H. v. State, — N.E.3d — (Ind.Ct.App. 2014) established that where there is a reasonable possibility that the same evidentiary facts were used to establish the essential elements of two offenses, then the two adjudications — just as would be true of two convictions — are deemed to have violated the principles of double jeopardy.  The Double Jeopardy clause of the Indiana Constitution states that “[n]o person shall be put in jeopardy twice for the same offense.”  Ind. Const. Art. I, Sec. 14.  If neither conviction/adjudication can be reduced to a “less serious form of the same offense” to eliminate the violation of the Double Jeopardy Clause, then the conviction/adjudication “with the less severe penal consequences” must be vacated.  Citing Richardson v. State, 717 N.E.2d 32, 54-55 (Ind. 1999).

In this case, following a factfinding hearing, the juvenile court entered true findings for Criminal Trespass as a Class A Misdemeanor and Unlawful Entry of a Motor Vehicle as a Class B Misdemeanor.  Applying the actual evidence test, the Court of Appeals found that the same evidence was used to substantiate both true findings.  For both adjudications, the State argued that C.H. knowingly entered a vehicle without the owner’s permission.  The juvenile court did not enter findings that the adjudications were based on separate facts, and, therefore, there was a reasonable possibility that the same evidence was used to establish the essential elements of both offenses.

 

 

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