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In re Welfare of I. N. A.

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

September 5, 2017

In the Matter of the Welfare of: I. N. A., Child.

         Hennepin County District Court File No. 27-JV-15-2435

          Mary F. Moriarty, Fourth District Public Defender, Peter W. Gorman, Assistant Public Defender, Minneapolis, Minnesota (for appellant I.N.A.)

          Lori Swanson, Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; and Michael O. Freeman, Hennepin County Attorney, Kelly O'Neill Moller, Assistant County Attorney, Minneapolis, Minnesota (for respondent)

          Considered and decided by Cleary, Chief Judge; Kirk, Judge; and Florey, Judge.

         SYLLABUS

         When a district court continues a case without a finding of delinquency pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 260B.198, subd. 7 (2016), the district court may order the juvenile to pay reasonable restitution under Minn. Stat. § 260B.198, subd. 1(5) (2016).

          OPINION

          CLEARY, Chief Judge.

         On appeal from the district court's restitution order modifying disposition, appellant I.N.A. argues that the district court erred in ordering $12, 529.90 in restitution because it (1) lacked the statutory authority to impose a restitution obligation as part of a continuance without adjudication in a juvenile-delinquency proceeding, (2) failed to make sufficient written findings under Minnesota Rule of Juvenile Delinquency Procedure 15.05, (3) failed to consider I.N.A.'s ability to pay, and (4) failed to differentiate between the damage caused by I.N.A. and a co-respondent.

         We affirm in part because the district court possessed the statutory authority to order restitution as part of a continuance without adjudication in a juvenile-delinquency proceeding. We reverse in part and remand because (1) the district court did not make sufficient written findings pursuant to Minn. R. Juv. Delinq. P. 15.05, and (2) consequently the monthly amount of restitution ordered is not clear and we cannot determine whether the district court fully considered I.N.A.'s ability to pay such a monthly amount. We also remand for the district court to determine whether I.N.A. can be held liable for the entire damage without differentiating between the damage caused by I.N.A. and a co-respondent, whose case was dismissed.

         FACTS

         On May 5, 2015, 14-year-old I.N.A. was charged with first-degree criminal damage to property and trespassing for vandalizing property in a public park in Hopkins. After a local resident called police due to noise at the park, law enforcement found I.N.A. and B.D.B. near the park. I.N.A. told law enforcement that he and B.D.B. had been hitting the doors of several buildings and that they used a crowbar and small axe to cause damage to several buildings. B.D.B. said that I.N.A. and an unknown third person found an axe and crowbar sitting next to one of the park sheds and that the three gained entry into park buildings and equipment sheds. B.D.B. also stated that the group damaged doors and an electrical box.

         Law enforcement assessed the damage at the park and noted damage to all three equipment sheds. Officers noted that the damage and holes in a door were consistent with an axe. Additionally, the officers noticed that door handles, two electrical boxes on the side of an equipment shed, and two speakers on the side of another shed were damaged. The damage totaled $12, 529.90.

         On February 22, 2016, the district court ordered a psychological competency evaluation for I.N.A. That same day, B.D.B. was found incompetent to proceed and the petition filed against him was dismissed.

         The psychological evaluator found that I.N.A. met the criteria to be considered a child with "severe emotional disturbance" as defined in the Minnesota Comprehensive Children's Mental Health Act but opined that I.N.A. was competent to proceed because he demonstrated an adequate factual and rational understanding of general legal proceedings and his own case.

         On May 18, 2016, the district court found I.N.A. competent to proceed. That day I.N.A. pleaded guilty to count 1, criminal damage to property, with the understanding that count 2, trespassing, would be dismissed. The parties were free to argue whether the court should adjudicate I.N.A. as a juvenile delinquent. The district court continued the case without adjudication for two periods of 180 days conditioned on, among other things, I.N.A.'s adherence to supervised probation and on paying restitution in the amount of $12, 529.90.

         In June 2016, I.N.A. moved for a contested restitution hearing, which was held in December 2016. At the hearing, an officer from Hennepin County juvenile probation and the park superintendent from the City of Hopkins testified as to how the $12, 529.90 in damage was calculated. I.N.A.'s mother, E.A., also testified at the hearing regarding I.N.A.'s ability to pay restitution. She testified that paying the $12, 529.90 would be a financial hardship on her family. She stated that I.N.A. has ADHD, is dyslexic, missed developmental milestones in early childhood, received special education in school, and has very reactionary behavior. She feared that I.N.A.'s disabilities would prevent him from finding a job. She stated that her family could "maybe" afford to pay $50 per month in restitution.

         On December 19, 2016, the district court ordered I.N.A. to pay restitution in the full amount. The district court found the state's witnesses credible and found that the bills for repairs were reasonable and attributable to I.N.A.'s actions. The district court found that I.N.A. had the ability to pay smaller (not "small") monthly installments by finding a part-time job.

         I.N.A. now appeals the district court's restitution order modifying disposition. Pending this appeal, the district court stayed its order, tolling the timeframe for the continuance without adjudication.

         ISSUES

         I. Does a district court have the statutory authority to order restitution as part of a continuance without a finding of delinquency in a juvenile-delinquency case?

         II. Did the district court err by failing to make explicit written findings in its orders pursuant to Minnesota Rule of Juvenile Delinquency Procedure 15.05?

         III. Did the district court err by failing to consider I.N.A.'s ability to pay the restitution obligation of $12, 529.90 in smaller monthly installments?

         IV. Did the district court err in ordering I.N.A. responsible for the full amount of damage without differentiating between ...


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