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John "Jack" Razumich
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Understanding the Criminal Justice System

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Can a Juvenile Court Order a Civil Judgement for Restitution?

Can juvenile court order civil judgement for Restitution

In a bit of breaking news, the Indiana Court of Appeals recently held that restitution stemming from a juvenile delinquency adjudication cannot later be converted into a civil judgement. This is big for a few reasons.  Article Here.

First, historically it has always happened. When a child finished their probation, anything unpaid for restitution would be converted to a civil judgement. This would then go into their credit – a child who already has a song on their credit report. Gee, real nice. They have always been treated in the same way as an adult would. By the way, the civil lien statute does  all for civil judgements to be rendered against those convicted of crimes. Juveniles have been lumped in because juvenile delinquency proceedings are very similar to adult criminal proceedings. However, the law has been very clear in distinguishing juvenile cases in many aspects.

The potential ramifications are interesting. Courts may be less likely to issue civil judgements altogether because they don’t want to continue to monitor them just for debt collection. But I think it more likely that they do this because failure to do so would leave victims to crimes without recompense. So juveniles would be monitored longer, resulting in further tax dollars being spent just to help collect restitution. Likely those tax dollars are higher than the potential restitution but that’s up for debate.

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