Articles Posted in California Courts of Appeal

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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

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The juvenile court is statutorily required to appoint counsel for the parent of a child who is in an out-of-home placement if the parent is presently financially unable to afford and cannot for that reason employ counsel unless the court finds that the parent has made a knowing and intelligent waiver of counsel. The Court of Appeal held that the juvenile court's error in failing to timely appoint counsel for mother in a Welfare and Institutions Code section 388 hearing resulted in a miscarriage of justice. In this case, mother was without representation for more than two years, the child resided primarily in a group home during that time, and she had requested reappointment of counsel. Therefore, the court reversed and remanded to the juvenile court with directions. View "In re J.P." on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeal affirmed the juvenile court's decision to lift a deferred entry of judgment (DEJ), sustain a delinquency petition against defendant, declare him a ward of the court, and terminate jurisdiction. Because there was no support for a finding that defendant's failure to maintain his grades and complete his high school education was other than willful, the court held that the juvenile court's reliance on that failure as a basis for lifting DEJ was not an abuse of discretion. The court rejected defendant's alternate argument that A.V., supra, 11 Cal.App.5th 697, compelled a conclusion that the juvenile court abused its discretion in declining to order that the records relating to his petition be sealed. View "In re N.R." on Justia Law

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In December 2015, the Contra Costa County District Attorney filed a petition alleging Charles committed felony violations of Penal Code section 29610 by possession of a firearm by a minor and of section 25400(a)(2) by having a concealed firearm on his person, and a misdemeanor violation of section 148(a)(1) by resisting, obstructing or delaying a peace officer in that officer’s performance of his duties. In August 2016, the juvenile court denied Charles’s motion to suppress evidence under Welfare and Institutions Code section 700.1 but granted Charles’s motion to reduce the firearm felony violations to misdemeanors. The court committed Charles to Orin Allen Youth Rehabilitation Facility for a six-month regular program. The court of appeal reversed as to the charge of resisting, finding insufficient evidence, but otherwise affirmed. The court rejected an argument that the statute prohibiting carrying a concealed firearm (254001) was preempted by the more specific statute that targets minors, section 29610. The statutes prohibit different conduct and Charles violated both statutes. View "In re Charles G." on Justia Law

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A jury found defendant Armando Pineda, Jr. guilty of second degree murder for shooting the patriarch of a neighboring family, Rogelio Islas (Rogelio). Defendant was 17 years old at the time of the crime, and the district attorney directly filed the charge against him in a court of criminal jurisdiction, rather than a juvenile court. Owing to that filing and the subsequent repeal of “direct file” procedures effected by Section 4 of the Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act of 2016 (Proposition 57), the issue presented for the Court of Appeal was an issue still pending on the California Supreme Court‘s docket: whether the changes worked by Section 4 applied to defendant because his conviction was not yet final. In the unpublished portion of its opinion, the Court also considered defendant‘s additional arguments on appeal: (1) that the trial court abused its discretion by denying his motion to continue the trial; (2) the court should have instructed the jury on third party flight as consciousness of guilt (both defendant and his father fled the scene of the crime, and the defense at trial was that the father was the shooter); and (3) the court should have given defendant‘s proposed pinpoint instruction on provocation as relevant to voluntary manslaughter. The judgment was conditionally reversed and remanded for the juvenile court to conduct a fitness hearing under Welfare and Institutions Code section 707. If, after a fitness hearing, the juvenile court determined that it would have transferred defendant to a court of criminal jurisdiction, the judgment of conviction would be reinstated as of the date of that determination. If no motion for a fitness hearing is filed, or if a fitness hearing is held and the juvenile court determined that it would not have transferred defendant to a court of criminal jurisdiction, defendant‘s criminal conviction, including the true findings on the alleged enhancements, would be deemed to be juvenile adjudications as of the date of the juvenile court‘s determination. In the event the conviction was deemed a juvenile adjudication, the juvenile court was ordered to conduct a dispositional hearing and impose an appropriate disposition within the court‘s discretion. View "California v. Pineda" on Justia Law

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Trever P. was found by the juvenile court to have committed acts of sexual molestation against his four-year-old cousin while babysitting him one day. Trever was twelve-years-old at the time of the offenses. The court committed Trever to the Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ). Trever argued on appeal that the primary evidence against him, an audio recording, surreptitiously made by the victim’s mother, of the conversation Trever and the victim had during the offenses, was inadmissible under Penal Code section 632.1, a part of the Invasion of Privacy Act. Trever also argued the trial court abused its discretion by committing him to DJJ. The Court of Appeal agreed with the trial court’s conclusion that the evidence was admissible under an exception in section 633.5, allowing for admission of surreptitious recordings if one party consents to being recorded for the purpose of obtaining evidence of certain specified crimes. The victim’s mother reasonably suspected such a crime when she arranged to make the recording. Finding no other error, the Court affirmed the juvenile court’s judgment. View "In re Trever P." on Justia Law

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San Francisco officers, responding to a broadcast that someone in the area might have a firearm, saw individuals, known to have gang associations, on the corner in a rival gang area. Concerned that they might be trying to attract violence, the officers contacted them. Officer Solares smelled marijuana on D.W.’s clothes and breath. D.W. admitted he had just smoked some. Officer Ochoa told D.W. to put his hands on his head, and D.W. “tried to pull away . . . he didn’t want me to search him.” Ochoa put his hand underneath D.W.’s backpack, and felt a revolver. Officers handcuffed D.W. and retrieved the revolver. D.W. was 17 years old. The court denied D.W.’s motion to suppress, stating: there’s a big distinction [between probable cause] to arrest and [probable cause] to search. . . a strong smell can establish probable cause to believe contraband is present and the search is allowable and legal. The court of appeal affirmed a judgment declaring D.W. a ward of the court but, after remand by the California Supreme Court, reversed. Even if the officers could reasonably conclude that the smell of marijuana and D.W.’s admission that he just smoked some meant he had more, it would have been mere conjecture to conclude that he possessed enough to constitute a jailable offense. View "In re D.W." on Justia Law

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J.C.’s early years were marked by extreme neglect and abuse. He was removed from his mother at age five and placed in numerous foster homes until he was eventually adopted. J.C. would be adjudged a ward of the court when he was 12 years old, for a series of forcible lewd and lascivious acts on a child under 14. He would ultimately be placed on probation, and committed to the care and custody of his adoptive mother. The conditions of probation included participation in a sex offender treatment program. The following year J.C. admitted a violation of probation, being in the presence of minors under age 14 without the supervision of an adult. The court revoked and reinstated probation on the same terms. In 2012 it was reported that J.C. inappropriately touched his disabled minor sister. J.C.’s mother stated she could no longer adequately supervise J.C. The juvenile court granted a motion to modify custody and J.C. was placed with Martin’s Achievement Place group home. The People filed a new wardship petition, based on the same allegations that J.C. had committed two lewd and lascivious acts on his 12-year-old sister. A psychological evaluation reported that J.C. was not making progress at the sex offender’s program. J.C. admitted one lewd act; the second violation of probation and the petition were dismissed. The court committed J.C. to (level B) placement at Lakeside Academy in Michigan. An inappropriate touching incident was another probation violation, and prompted Lakeside Academy to move J.C. J.C.’s counsel suggested placement at the Victory Outreach Program, a one-year Christian program for recovery from addiction. The juvenile court found Victory Outreach was not a good fit and committed J.C. to DJF, with a maximum confinement of 10 years,3 not to exceed the statutory limitation of commitment to age 23. The court ordered J.C. to register as a sex offender. On appeal, J.C. contends lifetime sex offender registration for juveniles is cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution. In this case, the Court of Appeal concluded mandatory lifetime sex offender registration pursuant to Penal Code section 290.0081 for those adjudicated wards of the court based on the commission of certain sex offenses was not cruel and unusual punishment. The Court of Appeal came to this conclusion because appellant did not establish on the record that such registration was punishment. View "In re J. C." on Justia Law