Articles Posted in California Courts of Appeal

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The Court of Appeal reversed the juvenile court's order recommitting defendant to the Division of Juvenile Facilities (DJF) pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code section 707, subdivision (b). In this case, DJJ rejected the initial commitment—which was ordered following a violation of probation—because it was based on a section 602 petition in which the most recent offense was not a DJF-qualifying offense. The juvenile court then granted the prosecutor's motion to dismiss the no-qualifying offense and ordered the recommitment. The court agreed with defendant that the juvenile court erred in granting the prosecution's post-disposition motion to dismiss count 2 of his section 602 petition for the sole purpose of rendering him eligible for a DJF commitment. View "In re A.O." on Justia Law

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In 2013, the juvenile court declared defendant-appellant, R.G. (Minor, born in April 2000), a dependent of the court. In 2016, while Minor remained a dependent of the juvenile court, the State filed a juvenile wardship petition alleging Minor had committed misdemeanor battery. After denying Minor’s request to refer the matter for a Welfare and Institutions Code section 241.12 assessment and report, Minor admitted the allegation that she had committed misdemeanor battery. The court declared Minor a ward of the court, placed her on formal probation, placed her in the custody of Children and Family Services (CFS), and scheduled the matter for a hearing pursuant to section 241.1. After subsequently receiving a section 241.1 report, the court again declared Minor a ward of the court with “CFS lead jurisdiction.” On appeal, Minor contended the juvenile court prejudicially erred by refusing to refer the matter for a section 241.1 assessment, report, and hearing prior to taking jurisdiction, resulting in violations of Minor’s statutory and due process rights. Moreover, Minor argued the subsequent section 241.1 report and hearing were statutorily inadequate. CFS countered Minor forfeited any contention the section 241.1 report was untimely or inadequate and that any error was harmless. The Court of Appeal reversed, finding the court erred by refusing to refer the matter for a section 241.1 report prior to making a determination of Minor’s status and holding the jurisdictional hearing. Furthermore, the subsequent section 241.1 report was inadequate to overcome the court’s initial error, and this error was not harmless. View "In re R.G." on Justia Law

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Defendant-appellant, M.L. (Minor), completed a program of informal supervision under Welfare and Institutions Code section 6541 after the State alleged he had unlawfully possessed a knife upon school grounds. Prior to the court’s dismissal of the petition and order sealing Minor’s records, Minor’s counsel requested that the court seal Minor’s school records as well; the court declined to do so. On appeal, Minor contends the court erred by denying the request. The Court of Appeal affirmed, finding: (1) education records (including student disciplinary records, were already protected from disclosure under state and federal law; and (2) Minor did not carry his burden of showing that colleges would require the entirety of Minor’s school records, i.e., that colleges would require any records which would contain any reference to the allegation in the petition. Moreover, the Court determined it could be beneficial for a school to continue to have access to information regarding the incident both for the purposes of helping to rehabilitate and educate Minor and to protect other students. View "In re M.L." on Justia Law

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Proposition 57, the Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act of 2016, does not apply retroactively to direct file cases that are not yet final. Defendant appealed his conviction of first degree murder and sentence of 50 years to life in prison. In the published portion of this opinion, the Court of Appeal held that Proposition 57 was not retroactively applicable to this case. Therefore, defendant was not entitled to a conditional reversal and remand for a fitness/transfer hearing in juvenile court, and failure to afford him such a remand did not violate equal protection. View "People v. Suarez" on Justia Law

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Defendant's appeal of her life without the possibility of parole (LWOP) sentence was dismissed as moot in light of Senate Bill No. 394, which provides a youth offender parole hearing to defendant and others similarly situated. Prior to SB 394, Penal Code section 3051 provided that juvenile offenders who were sentenced to LWOP would die in prison without the opportunity for a parole suitability hearing. SB 394 amended section 3051 to expressly provide a youth offender such as defendant a suitability hearing after 25 years of incarceration. View "People v. Lozano" on Justia Law

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Two wardship petitions, filed in San Mateo County in 2013, charged the minor, W.R. with possession of a dagger, battery, and resisting arrest, and with vandalism. He had several probation violations. San Francisco County filed a third petition, alleging robbery, assault likely to cause great bodily injury, and false personation. The court found the allegations not true and returned the case to San Mateo County, where fourth and fifth petitions were filed. San Francisco accepted a transfer of all cases after a sixth petition. After a seventh petition, the court ordered out-of-state placement. After he was returned to San Francisco, W.R. moved to seal his juvenile records. (Welfare and Institutions Code 786.) The court terminated the misdemeanor probation terms satisfactorily and dismissed the single felony count. The district attorney argued that section 786 did not authorize the sealing of the records pertaining to one 2015 petition for which W.R. was not found competent and, therefore, did not satisfactorily complete probation. The court granted the minor’s request in part but declined to seal the felony and 2015 petition's records. The court of appeal reversed in part. The statute does not reference the entire juvenile court file, as W.R. claimed, but the court: should have sealed the records in a case dismissed as part of a plea bargain; had discretion to seal records pertaining to another petition in which the allegations were found not true; but did not have discretion to seal records pertaining to a petition filed after the last petition for which the minor was placed on probation. W.R. may seek to have those records sealed under section 781. View "In re W.R." on Justia Law

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The juvenile court found that Dean W. (the ward) had committed a misdemeanor violation of Vehicle Code section 23152, driving under the influence. He was declared a ward of the court and placed on probation. The ward signed an advisement pursuant to Vehicle Code section 23593 and California v. Watson, 30 Cal.3d 290 (1981). The court later found that the ward had successfully completed his probation and terminated his wardship. Furthermore, the court granted the ward’s request to seal his juvenile court records, except for one document regarding his acknowledgment that he knew driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol was dangerous to human life (his "Watson" advisement). The issue before the Court of Appeal was whether the trial court properly decided not to seal the ward’s juvenile record in full. The Court of Appeal concluded after review that the Welfare and Institutions Code allows minors who have completed their rehabilitation to have “all” records of their juvenile adjudication sealed. The Vehicle Code authorizes criminal prosecutors to use a criminal defendant’s acknowledgment of the dangerousness of driving under the influence as evidence of implied malice in a later second-degree murder case. Here, the ward’s right to have all of his juvenile records sealed includes the ward’s acknowledgment​ of the dangerousness of driving under the influence. Therefore, the Court reversed the juvenile court’s order, with directions to seal the entirety of the ward’s records, to ensure that other government agencies specified in the statute seal the ward’s records, and to consider whether other government agencies also be ordered to do so. View "In re Dean W." on Justia Law

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T.F., then a 13-year-old special education student, was accused of possessing a weapon on school grounds (Penal Code 626.10(a)) and committing a lewd act on a child under age 14 (Penal Code 288(a)). Before and during his wardship proceeding under Welfare and Institutions Code 602, T.F’s defense counsel moved to exclude inculpatory statements he made to the police. The court suppressed the pre-Miranda statements T.F. made when questioned at his school, but admitted the post-Miranda statements he made at the police station. The court sustained the petition, finding true the allegation that T.F. had touched the victim’s vagina when she was three years old. T.F., then 16 years old, was declared a ward of the court and placed on probation in his mother’s home. The court of appeal reversed, finding that T.F.’s statements were made in violation of his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. T.F.’s Miranda admonition was “rapidly rattled” off without taking time to determine whether T.F. understood, after T.F. had already undergone a nearly hour-long interrogation by two detectives while confined in a school conference room, which culminated in his arrest. T.F. was sobbing and clearly distraught at school and remained so during the subsequent interrogation. View "In re T.F." on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeal affirmed defendant's conviction for first degree murder, first degree burglary, and conspiracy to commit murder. In the published portion of the opinion, the court held that Proposition 57 does not apply retroactively to defendant's case, and thus rejected defendant's claim that retroactivity to juvenile offenders with life without the possibility of parole sentences was required under Montgomery v. Louisiana. View "People v. Navarra" on Justia Law

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K.S. was detained by the San Francisco Human Services Agency shortly after her birth in January 2017, due to a referral indicating that mother had tested positive for methamphetamines during a recent prenatal visit. The dependency petition cited mother’s long history of substance abuse for which she failed to receive treatment; the termination of mother’s parental rights with respect to four older children based on her untreated polysubstance abuse; the parents’ history of domestic violence; father’s history of substance abuse, for which he failed to seek treatment until June 2017; and the termination of father’s parental rights to three other children. Mother and father challenged the juvenile court order denying them reunification services with respect to K.S., their only child in common, and setting a permanency planning hearing under Welfare and Institutions Code section 366.26. Under section 361.5(b)(10) and (b)(11), reunification services need not be offered to a parent if the court has previously terminated reunification services or parental rights with respect to a sibling or half-sibling of the child and the parent “has not subsequently made a reasonable effort to treat the problems that led to removal.” The court of appeal affirmed; the record sufficiently supports the juvenile court's determinations and declining to apply a “best interests” analysis. View "Jennifer S. v. Superior Court" on Justia Law