Indiana Juvenile Delinquency Law

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What can happen to my child if my child is charged with a crime?

What are my child's rights?

What are my responsibilities as a parent?

The information presented in this page should help Indiana parents and children answer some of these questions. This page cannot (due to available space) answer all possible questions.

We have presented this brief overview to help citizens, parents and children understand the general function and procedure of Juvenile Delinquency Law in the State of Indiana.

Parents should always consider speaking with an experienced attorney if their child is charged with committing a crime.

For more detailed information on Indiana Juvenile Law and procedure, see the links to the Indiana Code immediately below the Page Index.


Jurisdiction Parties to a Juvenile Delinquency Proceeding Juvenile Detention and Custody
Preliminary Inquiry Informal Adjustment Juvenile's Rights in Delinquency Proceeding
Right to Counsel Parental Participation and Financial Responsibility Predispositional Report
Dispositional Alternatives Waiver of Jurisdiction to Adult Court  


Links to the Indiana Code, Juvenile Law

Juvenile Court Jurisdiction Juvenile Court Procedures Delinquency Juvenile Records
Reporting and Investigation
of Child Abuse and Neglect
Children in Need of Services Missing Children The Indiana Code




Jurisdiction in Juvenile Delinquency cases:

IC 31-30-1-1

The juvenile court has exclusive original jurisdiction, except as provided in IC 31-30-1-9 and 31-30-1-10, in all proceedings governing the detention of a delinquent child. Also, the juvenile court has exclusive jurisdiction over violations of IC 7.1-5-7 if the child is under eighteen years of age. However, the juvenile court does not have jurisdiction with respect to a child who commits an infraction, violation of a municipal ordinance, or violation of a traffic law if the violation is a misdemeanor and the child is 16 years of age or older. The juvenile court has exclusive jurisdiction over a juvenile who commits a violation of IC 9-30-5 (Operating While Intoxicated offenses).

IC 31-30-1-4 Crimes excluded from juvenile jurisdiction:

Excluded from the jurisdiction of juvenile courts are prosecutions against a sixteen year old or older individual for alleged violations of the following:

  1. IC 35-42-1-1 (murder);
  2. IC 35-42-3-2 (kidnapping)
  3. IC 35-42-4-1 (rape);
  4. IC 35-42-4-2 (criminal deviate conduct)
  5. IC 35-42-5-1 (robbery), if:
    (A) it was committed while armed with a deadly weapon; or
    (B) it results in bodily injury or serious bodily injury;
  6. IC 35-42-5-2 (carjacking);
  7. IC 35-45-9-3 (criminal gang activity)
  8. IC 35-45-9-4 (criminal gang intimidation)
  9. IC 35-47-2-1 (carrying a handgun without a license)
  10. IC 35-47-10 (children and firearms)
  11. IC 35-47-5-4.1 (dealing in a sawed-off shotgun);
  12. IC 35-48-4-1 (dealing in cocaine or a narcotic drug;
  13. IC 35-48-4-2 (dealing in a schedule I, II, or III controlled substance;
  14. IC 35-48-4-3 (dealing in a schedule IV controlled substance); or
  15. Any offense that may be joined [under IC 35-34-1-9 (a)(2)] with the crime listed in subdivisions (1) through (14).

Once a child described above has been charged with any crime listed in subsection (1) through (15), the court having adult criminal jurisdiction retains jurisdiction over the case even if the child pleads guilty to or is convicted of a lesser included offense. A plea of guilty to or a conviction of a lesser included offense does not vest jurisdiction in the juvenile court.

Parties to a Juvenile Delinquency Proceeding:

The parties to any juvenile delinquency proceeding are:

All rights of parties provided in the Indiana Rules of Trial Procedure apply in juvenile delinquency proceedings.

Juvenile Detention and Custody:

Indiana Law specifies four ways in which a child "may be taken into custody:"

The Court can issue an order to take a child into custody pursuant to 34-4-9-2.1 for failure to appear in response to summons, subpoena, or notice given in open court.

IC 34-4-9-2.1 allows the court to order a body attachment for persons who fail to appear as ordered by the court.

A juvenile apprehended upon the authority of such a body attachment shall be taken "to a place designated in the order to await a detention hearing ."

A child taken into custody without such an order may be released to the child's parent or legal guardian by the law enforcement officer upon written promise to appear, but may also be placed in detention by the officer if the officer reasonably believes that:

The law enforcement officer shall immediately notify the child's parent, guardian, or custodian and an intake officer of the following: (1) Where the child is being held. (2) The reasons for the child's detention.

A child taken into custody and placed in detention without a court order and detained by the intake officer is entitled to: (1) a probable cause determination by a judicial officer within forty-eight (48) hours of the time the child was taken into custody; and (2) a detention hearing within forty-eight (48) hours (excluding Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays) after the child is taken into custody. The notice of the time, place and purpose of the detention hearing shall be given to the child and the child's parent if the parent can be located. At the hearing the child and the parent shall be informed of the child's right to counsel, and the child's right to refrain from testifying against himself/herself. The court may appoint counsel for the child.

Preliminary Inquiry:

If the prosecutor has reason to believe the child has committed a delinquent act, the prosecutor shall instruct the intake officer to make a preliminary inquiry to determine whether the interests of the public or the child require further action. A preliminary inquiry is an informational investigation into the facts and circumstances reported to the court. Whenever practicable, it should include information on the child's background, current status, and school performance.

Informal Adjustment:

IC 31-37-9

After the preliminary inquiry, and upon approval by the juvenile court, the intake officer may implement a program of informal adjustment if the officer has probable cause to believe that the child is a delinquent child or a child in need of services. The child and parent, guardian, custodian, or attorney must consent to the program. A program of informal adjustment may not exceed six (6) months, except by approval of the juvenile court which may extend a program of informal adjustment an additional six (6) months.

Juvenile's Rights in Delinquency Proceeding:

In a juvenile delinquency proceeding, the juvenile has the following rights:

Right to Counsel:

In a delinquency proceeding, the juvenile is entitled to be represented by counsel who may represent him/her without a conflict of interest. The court can appoint an attorney for the juvenile, without any cost to the juvenile, if the juvenile desires one. If the court does give the juvenile a court appointed attorney, at the time of disposition the court must make a decision whether the parents must reimburse the county for all or part of the cost of the court-appointed attorney. A juvenile can waive his right to an attorney if that waiver is joined by the juvenile's custodial parent, guardian, custodian or guardian ad litem. The juvenile's parent, guardian, custodian, or guardian ad litem may waive the juvenile's right to an attorney if they knowingly and voluntarily waive the right, and if they have no interest adverse to the juvenile, and if meaningful consultation has occurred between them and the juvenile, and if the juvenile knowingly and voluntarily joins with the waiver.

Parental Participation and Financial Responsibility/Reimbursement for Services:

If the juvenile is adjudicated a delinquent juvenile, the parent(s) or the custodian(s) of the juvenile may be required to participate in programs of care, treatment, or rehabilitation for the juvenile, and will be held financially responsible for any services provided for the juvenile or the parents/custodians (including the costs incurred by the County on behalf of the juvenile for: attorney, out-of-home placement, secure detention, inpatient/outpatient treatment or counseling).

The parent(s) or custodian(s) of the juvenile are entitled to controvert any allegations made at the dispositional or other hearing concerning their participation, or they may controvert any allegations concerning their financial responsibility for any services that would be provided.

Expenses which a parent or guardian of the estate shall be ordered to pay are as follows:

Expenses which a parent or guardian of the estate may be ordered to pay are as follows:

If the parent or guardian of the estate defaults in reimbursing county, or fails to pay any fee authorizes by this article, the juvenile court may find him in contempt and may enter judgment for the amount due:

Each parent of a child shall be ordered to pay for services provided to the child in accordance with the child support guidelines adopted by the Indiana Supreme Court. IC 31-6-4-18(e). Exception: If the court finds that the parents/guardians are unable to pay, or justice would not be served by ordering payment, the order of reimbursement need not be issued. Enforcement of orders to parent is through the contempt power of the court.

Liability of parents to others for the acts of their children:

IC 34-31-4-1. A parent is liable for not more than five thousand dollars ($5,000) in actual damages arising from harm to a person or damage to property knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly caused by the parent's child if: (1) the parent has custody of the child; and (2) the child is living with the parent.

IC 34-31-4-2. A parent of a child who is a member of a criminal gang (as defined in IC 35-45-9-1), who actively encourages or knowingly benefits from the child's involvement in the criminal gang, is liable for actual damages arising from harm to a person or property intentionally caused by the child while participating in a criminal gang activity if: (1) the parent has custody of the child; (2) the child is living with the parent or guardian; and (3) the parent failed to use reasonable efforts to prevent the child's involvement in the criminal gang.

Predispositional Report:

If a child is found to be a delinquent child, the court will order a written predispositional report to be filed by a probation officer or caseworker. A predispositional report must include a recommendation for the care, treatment or rehabilitation of the child.

The child, his parents, guardian, guardian ad litem, custodian, or court appointed special advocate have the option of filing alternative predispositional report with the court.

Dispositional Alternatives upon finding of Delinquency:

Upon a finding of delinquency, and at the dispositional Hearing, the Court has the following dispositional alternatives:

The child may be placed in an IDOC facility until age 18 if the child is at least 13 and less than 16 and commits murder, kidnapping, rape, criminal deviate conduct, robbery committed with a deadly weapon or resulting in bodily or serious bodily injury.

The child may be placed in an IDOC facility for not more than 2 years if: (a) the act committed was a felony against a person, or a Class A or B felony that is a controlled substance offense, or Burglary as a Class A or B felony; and (b) if the child is at least 14 years of age and the child has committed two, unrelated, prior adjudicated acts of delinquency that would be felonies if committed by an adult


Waiver hearings: The statutory basis for waiver of juvenile court jurisdiction is IC 31-30-3.

Nonpresumptive Waiver arises under IC 31-30-3-2 when a child fourteen (14) years or older is charged with an act which is either: (1) heinous or aggravated with greater weight given to acts against the person than to acts against property; or (2) that is a part of a repetitive pattern of delinquent acts (even though less serious).

In a "Nonpresumptive Waiver" proceeding, the burden is upon the State to prove:

Nonpresumptive Waiver arises under IC 31-30-3-3 when a child sixteen (16) years or older is charged with an act which if committed by an adult would be a felony under the Controlled Substances Act, IC 35-48-4, and it is in the best interests of the safety and welfare of the community for the child to stand trial as an adult.

Presumptive Waiver arises under IC 31-30-3-4 when a child ten (10) years old or older [but less than age 16] is charged with an act which would be murder if committed by an adult. NOTE: If the child, who is sixteen (16) years of age or over and is charged with murder, the juvenile court does not have jurisdiction.

Presumptive Waiver arises under IC 31-30-3-5 when a child sixteen (16) years or older is charged with an act which if committed by an adult would be: a Class A or Class B felony, except a felony defined by IC 35-48-4; involuntary manslaughter as a Class C felony under IC 35-42-1-4; or reckless homicide as a Class C felony under IC 35-42-1-5, except for those cases in which the juvenile court has no jurisdiction.

Presumptive Waiver arises under IC 31-30-3-6 when a child is charged with an act which would be a felony, and the child has previously been convicted of a felony or a non-traffic misdemeanor. ["Once waived, always waived"]

Once a child has been waived to adult court and has been convicted of a felony or a non-traffic misdemeanor, the child will be waived to adult court for all future criminal acts.


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  Christopher L. Burnham, 1999