Childers v. State, No. 3-680A161

Docket NºNo. 3-680A161
Citation411 N.E.2d 157
Case DateOctober 09, 1980
CourtCourt of Appeals of Indiana

Page 157

411 N.E.2d 157
Gloria D. CHILDERS and Walter K. Childers, Appellants
(Defendants Below),
v.
STATE of Indiana, Appellee (Plaintiff Below).
No. 3-680A161.
Court of Appeals of Indiana, Third District.
Oct. 9, 1980.

Page 158

Richard J. Thonert, Fort Wayne, for appellants.

Theodore L. Sendak, Atty. Gen., Frank A. Baldwin, Deputy Atty. Gen., Indianapolis, for appellee.

HOFFMAN, Judge.

Following a bench trial, defendants-appellants Gloria and Walter Childers were convicted of neglect of a dependent and given suspended sentences of 180 days each. The dispositive question on appeal is whether the Allen Superior Court, Misdemeanor Division (misdemeanor court) lacked subject-matter jurisdiction over the crime.

The circumstances giving rise to this cause disclose that on August 31, 1979 the Allen County prosecutor filed informations against both defendants in the misdemeanor court. In general, these charging instruments alleged that on or about August 30, 1979 said defendants, having the care, custody and control of the following dependents, Rex and Crystal Childers, did knowingly place the dependents in a situation that endangered their lives or health, contrary to IC 1971, 35-46-1-4 (Burns 1979 Repl.). 1 At trial the judge proceeded on the assumption that insofar as the prosecutor filed the informations in the misdemeanor court, the charges had to be treated as misdemeanors even though the statute expressly stated that neglect of a dependent was a class D felony. This assumption was erroneous.

On August 31, 1979, the following statute governed the jurisdiction of the misdemeanor division of the superior courts:

"In any county with a population of not less than one hundred fifty thousand (150,000) nor more than five hundred thousand (500,000) having a unified superior court, the small claims and misdemeanor division of the superior court has the following jurisdiction:

(1) Original and concurrent jurisdiction in all civil cases founded on contract or tort in which the debt or damage claimed does not exceed one thousand five hundred dollars ($1,500).

(2) Original and concurrent jurisdiction in possessory actions between a landlord and tenant where the rent reserved does not exceed five hundred dollars ($500) per month.

(3) Original and concurrent jurisdiction of all misdemeanor and infraction cases.

(4) Original jurisdiction in cases involving a request for a surety of the peace.

(5) Original and concurrent jurisdiction of cases involving the violation of ordinances of cities, towns, or other municipal corporations.

(6) Original and concurrent jurisdiction of cases involving violations of ordinances which relate to traffic." (Emphasis added).

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