Articles Posted in California Courts of Appeal

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Defendant, then a minor, was directly charged and tried as an adult. Defendant's convictions and sentence were affirmed on appeal, and the matter was remanded to the trial court for the limited purpose of permitting him to make a record of information relevant to his eventual youth offender parole hearing. After the appellate opinion was filed, but before remittitur issued, voters eliminated prosecutorial discretion to file charges against certain juvenile defendants directly in a court of criminal (adult) jurisdiction. Furthermore, after the remittitur issued and proceedings on remand took place, but while the appeal following those proceedings was pending, the Legislature gave trial courts discretion to strike firearm enhancements. The Court of Appeal held that, under the unique circumstances of this case, and in light of the California Supreme Court's conclusion that Proposition 57 applies to all juveniles whose cases were filed directly in adult court and whose convictions were not final at the time of its enactment, the trial court should have entertained and granted defendant's motion for a juvenile fitness/transfer hearing. The court also held that whether defendant may receive the benefit of Senate Bill No. 620 depends on the outcome of his juvenile fitness/transfer hearing. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "People v. Hargis" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeal affirmed the juvenile court's order sustaining the allegations of a Welfare and Institutions Code section 602 petition and declaring M.S. a ward of the court. The court held that sufficient evidence existed to support the finding that M.S. committed second degree murder through the personal use of a deadly weapon. In this case, M.S. birthed a baby at home and then used a knife to cut its throat. The court rejected M.S.'s constitutional claims under the Fourth and Fifth Amendment. The court also held that M.S. was not eligible to be considered for referral to a mental health diversion program pursuant to the newly enacted sections 1001.35 and 1001.36. The court held that the new mental health diversion law does not apply to juveniles, and even if it did, M.S.'s crime was excluded. The court held that the juvenile court imposed a rehabilitation program for M.S. that was consistent with the purposes of the juvenile law. The juvenile court considered M.S.'s psychological needs, her risk of self-harm, and her need for continued counseling, ultimately placing her into the highest level of a group home. View "In re M.S." on Justia Law

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The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA; 25 U.S.C. 1901) gives Indian tribes the right to intervene in dependency proceedings regarding Indian children where foster care placement or termination of parental rights is being sought. The party initiating dependency proceedings must provide the tribe with notice. The Santa Clara County Department of Family and Services filed a juvenile dependency petition on behalf of nine-year-old L.D. At the initial hearing, Mother informed the court of Native Alaskan ancestry. At the dispositional hearing, the Department reported that it had sent notice, in November 2017, to the Native Village of Tanana, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the Secretary of the Interior. Receiving no objections, the court found the notice satisfied ICWA. The court found that Mother had sexually abused L.D., who was removed from Mother’s custody with the expectation she would be placed with her maternal grandfather who had been caring for her informally for years. Following another hearing, the court issued a three-year restraining order protecting L.D. from mother. The court later found Mother in violation of the order. Mother filed an appeal from that order but her briefing did not address the restraining order, instead challenging the finding regarding ICWA compliance. The court of appeal dismissed the appeal as untimely but noted that the Department conceded that its notice was inadequate and that notification efforts are continuing. View "In re L.D." on Justia Law

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In San Francisco County, a male took a woman’s cellphone from her hand and passed it to Minor. Police apprehended Minor and found the phone in his pocket. Minor admitted to misdemeanor receiving stolen property. Weeks later, in Alameda County, Minor and another robbed two “kids,” using a pellet “replica” gun. Minor was apprehended and confessed. A search of Minor’s cellphone revealed an email receipt for a “Semi-Auto BB Air Pistol.” Minor admitted to attempted second-degree robbery. Both cases were transferred to Contra Costa County (Minor’s residence).. In Contra Costa County, two males took a victim’s cellphone at gunpoint. After Minor was arrested for the Alameda County robbery, he confessed to the Contra Costa robbery—he had the cellphone in his possession. A juvenile wardship petition alleged Minor committed second-degree robbery and personally used a dangerous or deadly weapon. The juvenile court denied Minor’s motion to suppress his statements and sustained the allegations. The court of appeal affirmed the order that adjudged Minor a ward, removed him from parental custody, and committed him to a county institution, rejecting a claim that Minor did not understand his Miranda warnings. Committing Minor to juvenile hall until age 21, while providing for an earlier release if Minor successfully completed a court-designated treatment program, did not impermissibly delegate judicial authority to the probation department to determine the length of the commitment. View "In re L.R." on Justia Law

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Juvenile defendant appealed a dispositional order adjudging him a ward of the juvenile court and placing him on probation after the trial court sustained a petition for battery with serious bodily injury. The Court of Appeal affirmed a probation condition prohibiting defendant from discussing his case on social media, holding that the condition was neither overbroad nor in violation of defendant's First Amendment rights. In this case, defendant posted on social media bragging about being a 16 year old felon. The court held that the juvenile court had broad discretion in imposing probation conditions and the restriction on social media postings was precise, narrow, and reasonably tailored to address defendant's posting conduct and rehabilitation. View "In re A.A." on Justia Law

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After the trial court granted defendant's petition for writ of habeas corpus and resentenced him to 50 years to life in state prison, defendant appealed. Defendant was originally sentenced to 94 years to life after he was convicted of multiple violent sex offenses when he was 17 years old. The Court of Appeal vacated the sentence under Proposition 57 and held that he was entitled to a hearing in juvenile court regarding whether his case should be transferred to adult criminal court. If the juvenile court determines it would not have transferred defendant to criminal court under current law, the juvenile court shall treat his convictions as juvenile adjudications and impose an appropriate disposition within its usual time frame. If, however, the juvenile court decides it would have transferred defendant to adult criminal court, the case shall be transferred to criminal court, which shall reinstate his convictions but conduct a resentencing hearing on the vacated sentence. In light of People v. Contreras (2018) 4 Cal.5th 349, 383, the criminal court shall consider mitigating circumstances. View "People v. Garcia" on Justia Law

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The juvenile court found minor E.P. committed second degree burglary, possessed graffiti tools, received stolen property, and illegally possessed alcohol. E.P. contended the Court of Appeal should have reversed the burglary finding (count 1) because the evidence was insufficient to show he committed burglary rather than the new crime defined by Proposition 47 as shoplifting. He further argued the Court had to reverse the findings he received stolen property (counts 4-6) because he cannot be charged or convicted of both shoplifting and receiving the same property. After review, the Court of Appeal concluded the evidence was insufficient to show that E.P. committed burglary and, therefore, reverse the true finding on the burglary count. Because E.P. was not charged with shoplifting, there was no bar to charging him with receiving stolen property (counts 4-6) and the court’s true findings on those counts. Accordingly, the Court reversed the finding E.P. committed burglary, but affirmed the findings he received stolen property and illegally possessed an alcoholic beverage. View "In re E.P." on Justia Law

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C.S., then 15 years old, participated in a 2012 gang assault that resulted in the death of the 14-year-old victim. Under then-applicable Welfare and Institutions Code sections 602 and 7071, C.S. was charged in a court of criminal jurisdiction, rather than in juvenile court, with murder, assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury and participation in a street gang. In 2016, a jury convicted C.S. Before C.S.’s sentencing hearing, the Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act (Proposition 57) was passed and took effect the next day, amending sections 602 and 707, to provide that any allegation of criminal conduct against a person who was under age 18 at the time of an alleged offense must first be filed in juvenile court. There is no longer a presumption that a minor who was 14 or older when he allegedly committed certain offenses, is unfit for juvenile court; the prosecutor must request that the juvenile court transfer the minor to adult/criminal court. C.S.’s case was sent to juvenile court for a retrospective transfer hearing. That court ordered C.S., then 21 years old, transferred to adult/criminal court. The court of appeal vacated. The juvenile court must clearly and explicitly “articulate its evaluative process” by detailing “how it weighed the evidence” and by “identify[ing] the specific facts which persuaded the court” to reach its decision on the statutory criteria. View "C.S. v. Superior Court" on Justia Law

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Baldivia committed several criminal offenses when he was 17 years old. In a direct-filed adult criminal proceeding that had been initiated without a juvenile court fitness hearing, Baldivia pleaded no contest to four counts and admitted various enhancement allegations, including Penal Code section 12022.53 firearm enhancement allegations, in exchange for an agreed prison sentence of 17 years and four months and the dismissal of other counts and enhancement allegations. Proposition 57, which bars direct-filed adult criminal proceedings for juveniles and requires a juvenile fitness hearing before a juvenile case may be transferred to adult criminal court, took effect during the pendency of Baldivia’s appeal. The firearm enhancement statutes were also amended to grant courts discretion to strike such enhancements. Baldivia argued that he is entitled to a remand for a juvenile fitness hearing and, if he is found unfit for juvenile court and transferred to adult criminal court, a resentencing hearing at which the court may exercise its new discretion to strike the firearm enhancement. The court of appeal agreed. Baldivia may raise these issues on appeal despite his failure to obtain a certificate of probable cause in support of his appeal because the changes in the law were implicitly incorporated into his plea agreement--his contentions do not challenge the validity of his plea. The Attorney General conceded the merit of Baldivia’s contentions. View "People v. Baldivia" on Justia Law

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A jury found defendant Ezekiel Delgado guilty of two counts of first degree murder and one count of discharging a firearm at an occupied vehicle, found true a multiple-murder special circumstance and found that Delgado personally used a firearm, causing death. The trial court sentenced him to prison for a total unstayed term of 100 years to life. On appeal, defendant first claimed: (1) his inculpatory statements to the police should have been excluded on various grounds; (2) no substantial evidence supported the murder charge; (3) the trial court misinstructed on felony murder; (4) the trial court misinstructed on voluntary intoxication; (5) limits on the voluntary intoxication defense violate due process; and (6) he was entitled to a juvenile transfer hearing because of the passage of Proposition 57. The Attorney General conceded the last point. The Court of Appeal agreed with the parties that it had to remand for a juvenile transfer hearing, and agreed with defendant that, while on remand, the trial court should have the opportunity to consider exercising its newly acquired discretion regarding firearm enhancements. In the published portion of its opinion, the Court concluded the trial court erred in admitting some of defendant’s inculpatory admissions, but found the error harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. The Court disagreed with defendant’s remaining contentions of error, and remanded for further proceedings. View "California v. Delgado" on Justia Law