Justia Juvenile Law Opinion Summaries

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The Court of Appeal reversed a postjudgment order denying defendant's petition for resentencing under Penal Code section 1170.95 as to his conviction of first degree murder under a theory of felony murder based on his participation in an attempted carjacking. The court agreed with defendant that substantial evidence does not support the trial court's conclusion that he was a major participant in the underlying felony and acted with reckless indifference to human life.In this case, defendant did not provide the murder weapon, instruct his confederate to shoot, or know of his confederate's propensity toward violence, and the shooting occurred quickly without defendant having a meaningful opportunity to intervene. Although defendant was aware his confederate had a gun and intended to use it in the carjacking, as a 15-year-old he may well have lacked the experience and maturity to appreciate the risk that the attempted carjacking would escalate into a shooting and death, and he was more susceptible to pressure from his fellow gang members to participate in the carjacking. The court also agreed with defendant that Proposition 57 and Senate Bill 1391 apply to defendant's resentencing under section 1170.95 and directed the trial court to transfer the matter to the juvenile court. View "People v. Ramirez" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the youth court denying Appellant's motion to dismiss the State's petition to revoke his probation, holding that the youth court erred when it revoked Appellant's probation under a consent decree without Appellant's youth court petition having been reinstated.The youth court relied on the findings from its order to grant two dispositional orders that (1) granted the State's petition to revoke Appellant's probation and imposed a suspended sentence to the Montana Department of Corrections for placement in a secure juvenile facility, and (2) granted the State's second petition to revoke Appellant's probation and committed Appellant to Pine Hills Youth Correctional Facility. The Supreme Court reversed, thus vacating the youth court's two dispositional orders, holding that because the State failed to reinstate Appellant's original youth court petition, the youth court failed to follow the appropriate statutory procedure for a violation of a consent decree. View "In re C.L." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the jury verdict and dispositional order finding J.W. guilty of the offense of sexual intercourse without consent - a felony if committed by an adult, adjudicating J.W. a delinquent youth, and designating J.W. a serious juvenile offender, holding that there was no error or abuse of discretion.Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) the Youth Court did not abuse its discretion when it refused to instruct the jury to consider youth characteristics in determining J.W.'s guilt; (2) the Youth Court did not abuse its discretion when it refused to instruct the jury on the legal age of consent; and (3) there was sufficient evidence to convict J.W. of the offense of sexual intercourse without consent. View "In re J.W." on Justia Law

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In 2020, a juvenile wardship petition was filed charging D.C. with committing a murder in 2016, when he was 16 years old. The probation officer’s report reviewed the statutory factors relevant to a transfer out of juvenile court and recommended transfer, finding D.C. exhibited criminal sophistication, that D.C. was 20 years old and it was difficult to predict how he may mature in the next five years, that D.C.’s delinquent history included a 2014 wardship referral for battery involving a physical fight at school. D.C. also had “a pattern of delinquency” at school, D.C. admitted to abusing alcohol, marijuana, and Xanax, and that the circumstances and gravity of the alleged offenses were serious compared to other homicides.The juvenile court granted a motion to transfer him from juvenile court to a court of criminal jurisdiction (Welf. & Inst. Code 707(a)(1)). The court of appeal denied a petition challenging the transfer. The juvenile court did not err in considering D.C.’s 2017 burglary or the behavior documented in his school records. The finding that he was not likely to be rehabilitated before the expiration of juvenile court jurisdiction is supported by substantial evidence. The court also rejected challenges to expert testimony and evidentiary rulings. View "D.C. v. Superior Court" on Justia Law

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A wardship petition charged Y.C., then 17 years old, with assault with a firearm, carrying a loaded firearm, and possession of a firearm by a minor. Y.C. allegedly shot a suspected rival gang member in the leg. Arrested, Y.C. was taken to the Juvenile Assessment Center, where he met with a probation officer and invoked his Miranda rights. Y.C. agreed to participate in a mental health assessment conducted by a family therapist, pursuant to an established protocol of the Juvenile Services Division of the San Mateo County Probation Department. The therapist provided a summary of her interview to the probation department, which included the summary in a report provided to the juvenile court at Y.C.’s detention hearings.The court of appeal dismissed Y.C.’s writ petition as moot to the extent that it sought relief relating to his detention During the pendency of the proceeding, Y.C. entered a change of plea and was released from detention. The court otherwise denied the petition, rejecting arguments that the disclosure of the assessment interview to the probation department and juvenile court, and its use at his detention hearings, violated his constitutional right against self-incrimination and his right to counsel, as well as HIPAA and California’s Confidentiality of Medical Information Act. View "Y.C. v. Superior Court" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court committing seventeen-year-old D.S. to the custody of the Department of Corrections (DOC) pursuant to S.D. Codified Laws 26-8C-7 after adjudicating him of first-degree rape, holding that the court committed reversible error because its findings and conclusions were insufficient to permit meaningful review.In announcing its disposition, the circuit court did not address whether the recommendations before it for community supervision and outpatient treatment were viable alternatives to DOC custody or whether commitment to the DOC was the least restrictive alternative in D.S.'s best interest. The day after the deposition hearing, the court entered written findings of fact and conclusions of law stating simply that there were no other viable alternatives and that commitment to the DOC was the least restrictive alternative. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that remand was required for the circuit court to make findings on the viability of a community-based supervision and treatment alternative and to reimpose a disposition consistent with the requirements of section 26-8C-7. View "In re D.S." on Justia Law

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The family came to the attention of the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services in 2017, following a domestic violence incident. Mother did not work. Father was the sole financial provider for the family. They were not married but had been in a relationship for over 14 years. Father denied any domestic violence or drug use. The children denied witnessing any domestic violence. The family had prior referrals for physical abuse by mother in 2010, emotional abuse and neglect by mother and father in 2012, and a prior dependency case in 2014 based on domestic violence and mother’s substance abuse. In 2021, the court terminated father’s parental rights to the children, now 13, 10, and six years old.The court of appeal reversed. The juvenile court abused its discretion when it applied the wrong legal standard in finding the beneficial relationship exception to termination of parental rights did not apply (Welf. & Inst. Code 366.26(c)(1)(B)(i); the court did not have the benefit of new authority, In re Caden C. (2021), concerning the benefits to the children from continuing the relationship with father, or the detriment to the children of terminating the relationship. View "In re D.M." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court granting the State's motion to transfer this juvenile case to the criminal jurisdiction of the circuit court pursuant to W. Va. Code 49-4-710, holding that there was no error.Petitioner, the juvenile in this case, was seventeen years and seven months old when he was charged with child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury and child neglect resulting in serious bodily injury. The state police filed a juvenile petition alleging that Petitioner was a delinquent child. The State filed a motion to transfer Petitioner's juvenile proceedings to the circuit court's criminal jurisdiction. The circuit court granted the State's motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err in transferring the case to the criminal jurisdiction of the circuit court. View "In re C.B." on Justia Law

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In Alaska, a child was presumed to be at substantial risk of sexual abuse (and therefore in need of aid) if the parent knowingly leaves the child with a person convicted of or under investigation for a sex offense against a minor. After an adjudication hearing, a superior court found a child to be at substantial risk of sexual abuse based on evidence that she was left with her mother’s boyfriend, who had been indicted for sexual abuse of a minor. The mother appealed, arguing that the superior court erred by not acknowledging that an indictment was weaker proof than a conviction and by not making findings about the likelihood that the conduct underlying the indictment actually occurred. Because the statute did not require the superior court to draw such distinctions or make such findings, and because the findings the court did make are not clearly erroneous, the Alaska Supreme Court affirmed its ruling that the child was in need of aid. View "Cynthia W. v. Alaska, Dept. of Health & Social Services, Office of Children's Services" on Justia Law

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M.S. and J.G. argued during a high school class. J.G. hit M.S. with a small book. J.G. was suspended for two days. About a month later, J.G. accused M.S. of taking her backpack. M.S. pulled a rectangular device with protruding antennas out of her bag, turned it on, and said “[t]ry that again, I’m going to tase you.” A spark erupted from the device. J.G. thought the device was a taser and retreated. The principal learned of the incident.The school resource officer, Reed, took custody of the device, identifying it as an “over-the-counter” stun gun. He did not know the weapon’s voltage and testified that the “capability” of a stun gun depended on its voltage. He initially opined that M.S.’s stun gun probably could not immobilize a person but later noted that it could immobilize a person of smaller stature, and, depending on their size, age, and medical condition, could “in some cases even cause death.” The juvenile court found that M.S. brought a stun gun into school, sustained the Penal Code 626.10(a) allegation, reduced the offense to a misdemeanor, adjudicated M.S. a ward of the court, and placed her in her mother’s custody with probation conditions. The court of appeal reversed. There was insufficient evidence to support a finding that the weapon was capable of temporarily immobilizing a person and, therefore, that it qualified as a stun gun under sections 626.10(a) and 244.5(a). View "In re M.S." on Justia Law