Articles Posted in Juvenile Law

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R.M., a “mouthy 17-year-old high school student with an abysmal school attendance record,” refused to get out of bed. Her mother called the school’s diversion officer, who had worked with R.M. previously. Officers drove her to school. Standing in the parking lot, she refused to obey a deputy’s order to go inside to class; she started to leave. She was then handcuffed, arrested and escorted to juvenile hall where she was held for two days. The juvenile court sustained allegations that R.M. violated Penal Code 148 by resisting, delaying or obstructing a peace officer in performing his duties. It declared her a delinquent ward of the juvenile court under Welfare and Institutions Code 602,1 ordered her confined for 15 days to juvenile hall, and then placed on probation. The court of appeal reversed the jurisdictional finding. R.M. did not violate Penal Code 148, because the deputy was not performing a legal duty when he ordered her to class. “However well-intentioned the officer no doubt was, and despite the difficult predicament in which school authorities were placed,” the proper recourse was for school officials to pursue a declaration of wardship under section 601(b) for habitual truancy (which they eventually did), not resort to the criminal law. View "In re R.M." on Justia Law

Posted in: Juvenile Law

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R.M., a “mouthy 17-year-old high school student with an abysmal school attendance record,” refused to get out of bed. Her mother called the school’s diversion officer, who had worked with R.M. previously. Officers drove her to school. Standing in the parking lot, she refused to obey a deputy’s order to go inside to class; she started to leave. She was then handcuffed, arrested and escorted to juvenile hall where she was held for two days. The juvenile court sustained allegations that R.M. violated Penal Code 148 by resisting, delaying or obstructing a peace officer in performing his duties. It declared her a delinquent ward of the juvenile court under Welfare and Institutions Code 602,1 ordered her confined for 15 days to juvenile hall, and then placed on probation. The court of appeal reversed the jurisdictional finding. R.M. did not violate Penal Code 148, because the deputy was not performing a legal duty when he ordered her to class. “However well-intentioned the officer no doubt was, and despite the difficult predicament in which school authorities were placed,” the proper recourse was for school officials to pursue a declaration of wardship under section 601(b) for habitual truancy (which they eventually did), not resort to the criminal law. View "In re R.M." on Justia Law

Posted in: Juvenile Law

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In a wardship petition under Welfare and Institutions Code 602, W.R. admitted possession of a dagger and was made a ward of the court. Subsequent petitions alleged vandalism, truancy, probation violations, and other matters. After a seventh petition, alleging assault by means of force likely to cause great bodily injury, W.R. was found not competent to stand trial. After an out-of-state placement, W.R. moved to seal his juvenile records. The court of appeal concluded the records in a case dismissed as part of a plea bargain with another case should have been sealed and that the court had discretion under section 786(e)(1) to seal records pertaining to another petition in which the allegations were not sustained; but did not have the discretion to seal records pertaining to a petition filed after the last petition for which the minor was placed on probation. The California Supreme Court remanded for reconsideration in light of amendment to section 786(e), effective January 1, 2018: “If a person who has been alleged to be a ward of the juvenile court has his or her petition dismissed by the court,... or if the petition is not sustained ... the court shall order sealed all records pertaining to the dismissed petition. The court of appeal concluded that amended section 786(e) should apply prospectively to a minor’s case on remand and requires sealing of W.R.’s records. View "In re W.R." on Justia Law

Posted in: Juvenile Law

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In January 2017, Carlos (born September 2001) and an older male participated in a gang-related Santa Rosa shooting. The 18-year-old victim was standing in a driveway when the two passed in a car, parked, and approached. After a verbal confrontation, they drew firearms and shot five or six times toward the victim, who fled. Carlos admitted to the shooting, claiming the victim had tried to “jump him” a year earlier and that he had “heat for Northerners.” The co-participant drove the car and provided the firearm. The District Attorney filed a petition (Welfare and Institutions Code 602(a)), alleging that Carlos committed attempted murder and assault with a firearm, with firearm and street gang enhancements. Carlos admitted one count and enhancement; the other counts were dismissed. The juvenile court committed Carlos to the Department of Juvenile Facilities (DJF). The court of appeal reversed. Welfare and Institutions Code 7341 provides that no ward of the juvenile court shall be committed to DJF unless the judge is “fully satisfied that the mental and physical condition and qualifications of the ward are such as to render it probable that he will be benefited by the reformatory educational discipline or other treatment provided by” DJF. Because the record contains no specific information regarding DJF programs, no substantial evidence supported the finding of probable benefit. View "In re Carlos J." on Justia Law

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In January 2017, Carlos (born September 2001) and an older male participated in a gang-related Santa Rosa shooting. The 18-year-old victim was standing in a driveway when the two passed in a car, parked, and approached. After a verbal confrontation, they drew firearms and shot five or six times toward the victim, who fled. Carlos admitted to the shooting, claiming the victim had tried to “jump him” a year earlier and that he had “heat for Northerners.” The co-participant drove the car and provided the firearm. The District Attorney filed a petition (Welfare and Institutions Code 602(a)), alleging that Carlos committed attempted murder and assault with a firearm, with firearm and street gang enhancements. Carlos admitted one count and enhancement; the other counts were dismissed. The juvenile court committed Carlos to the Department of Juvenile Facilities (DJF). The court of appeal reversed. Welfare and Institutions Code 7341 provides that no ward of the juvenile court shall be committed to DJF unless the judge is “fully satisfied that the mental and physical condition and qualifications of the ward are such as to render it probable that he will be benefited by the reformatory educational discipline or other treatment provided by” DJF. Because the record contains no specific information regarding DJF programs, no substantial evidence supported the finding of probable benefit. View "In re Carlos J." on Justia Law

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In 2011, Barboza was charged with various felonies and enhancement allegations. In 2016, Barboza pleaded guilty to robbery and admitted an armed-with-a-firearm allegation (Pen. Code 12022(a)(1)). The remaining counts and enhancement allegations were dismissed. The information, filed directly in adult court, alleged that at the time of the offense, Barboza was a minor 16 years of age or older, under Welfare and Institutions Code former 707(d)(1).) The court imposed a six-year prison sentence, suspended execution of that sentence, and placed him on formal probation for five years. Barboza did not appeal. Several weeks later, the voters approved Proposition 57, which repealed section 707(d) and requires “a judge, not a prosecutor, to decide whether juveniles should be tried in adult court,” Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act of 2016, 707(a)(1).) Barboza unsuccessfully moved to have his case remanded to the juvenile court. The court of appeal affirmed. While the California Supreme Court has recently held that Proposition 57 is retroactive, that holding does not benefit Barboza because the judgment in his case is final. When a trial court imposes a state prison sentence and suspends execution of that sentence during a probationary period, the judgment rendered is a final judgment for the purposes of appeal. View "People v. Barboza" on Justia Law

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In April 2016, M.H. was born with a positive toxicology screening for methamphetamine and cocaine; his mother has a history of substance abuse and psychiatric illness. The identity of his father was unknown. Days later, M.H. was placed in the foster home where he remains. M.H.’s great-aunt E.W., who resides in Minnesota, expressed an interest in having M.H. placed with her. Mother’s services were terminated and E.W’s home was approved. The court granted the foster parents the status of de facto parents.The agency report described M.H. as a happy child with a positive relationship with his foster family; during five visits, the child was comfortable with E.W., who is 66 and has raised five children and has close ties to her extended family. The child welfare worker opined that with proper services M.H. would overcome the grieving process and settle into his new placement and that he had considered culture, heritage, and family connections. M.H. is African-American and his foster family is not. The court of appeal affirmed a ruling in favor of the foster family, rejecting an argument that the court disregarded the statutory preference for relative placement (Welf. & Inst. Code 361.3) in favor of the statutory preference for caretaker placement (section 366.26(k)). Neither preference applies; the trial court was best able to make the hard call of which placement was in M.H.’s best interests. View "In re M.H." on Justia Law

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In April 2016, M.H. was born with a positive toxicology screening for methamphetamine and cocaine; his mother has a history of substance abuse and psychiatric illness. The identity of his father was unknown. Days later, M.H. was placed in the foster home where he remains. M.H.’s great-aunt E.W., who resides in Minnesota, expressed an interest in having M.H. placed with her. Mother’s services were terminated and E.W’s home was approved. The court granted the foster parents the status of de facto parents.The agency report described M.H. as a happy child with a positive relationship with his foster family; during five visits, the child was comfortable with E.W., who is 66 and has raised five children and has close ties to her extended family. The child welfare worker opined that with proper services M.H. would overcome the grieving process and settle into his new placement and that he had considered culture, heritage, and family connections. M.H. is African-American and his foster family is not. The court of appeal affirmed a ruling in favor of the foster family, rejecting an argument that the court disregarded the statutory preference for relative placement (Welf. & Inst. Code 361.3) in favor of the statutory preference for caretaker placement (section 366.26(k)). Neither preference applies; the trial court was best able to make the hard call of which placement was in M.H.’s best interests. View "In re M.H." on Justia Law

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Sixteen-year-old defendant Adrian Vela and one of his fellow gang members confronted two suspected rival gang members. Vela’s accomplice pulled out a gun and shot the two victims, killing one of them. Charged as an adult, a jury found Vela guilty of murder, attempted murder, and found true the related firearm and gang allegations. Vela made several interrelated claims of instructional error concerning accomplice liability, and Vela raised two constitutional challenges to his 72 years to life sentence. In the unpublished parts of its opinion, the Court of Appeal found no reversible error with respect to the trial court’s jury instructions. Furthermore, the Court found Vela’s sentence did not violate either the equal protection clause or the Eighth Amendment. In the published portion of its opinion, the Court of Appeal conditionally reversed the judgment because of Proposition 57. “Vela is retroactively entitled to a transfer hearing because his case is not yet final on appeal. If, after conducting the hearing, the juvenile court judge determines that Vela’s case should be transferred to a court of criminal jurisdiction, then his convictions will be reinstated. . . . But if the juvenile court determines that Vela is amenable to rehabilitation, and should remain within the juvenile justice system, then his convictions will be deemed juvenile adjudications. The juvenile court is then to impose an appropriate disposition within its discretion under juvenile court law.” View "California v. Vela" on Justia Law

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Sixteen-year-old defendant Adrian Vela and one of his fellow gang members confronted two suspected rival gang members. Vela’s accomplice pulled out a gun and shot the two victims, killing one of them. Charged as an adult, a jury found Vela guilty of murder, attempted murder, and found true the related firearm and gang allegations. Vela made several interrelated claims of instructional error concerning accomplice liability, and Vela raised two constitutional challenges to his 72 years to life sentence. In the unpublished parts of its opinion, the Court of Appeal found no reversible error with respect to the trial court’s jury instructions. Furthermore, the Court found Vela’s sentence did not violate either the equal protection clause or the Eighth Amendment. In the published portion of its opinion, the Court of Appeal conditionally reversed the judgment because of Proposition 57. “Vela is retroactively entitled to a transfer hearing because his case is not yet final on appeal. If, after conducting the hearing, the juvenile court judge determines that Vela’s case should be transferred to a court of criminal jurisdiction, then his convictions will be reinstated. . . . But if the juvenile court determines that Vela is amenable to rehabilitation, and should remain within the juvenile justice system, then his convictions will be deemed juvenile adjudications. The juvenile court is then to impose an appropriate disposition within its discretion under juvenile court law.” View "California v. Vela" on Justia Law