Articles Posted in Juvenile 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

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A juvenile wardship petition alleged 17-year-old Minor committed misdemeanor battery against Miguel. Minor had been found to have committed four previous offenses, including felony grand theft and misdemeanor possession of a weapon on school grounds. At a contested jurisdictional hearing, Miguel testified that he was walking home from school when Minor stood in front of him and stating, “I heard you were talking shit.” Miguel denied it. Minor punched Miguel on his face. Miguel told his father that he was tired of being beat up and that “the same guy that beat me up before beat me up this time.” He “didn’t want to be a snitch.” Miguel had a bump on his head and swelling underneath his eye. The juvenile court sustained the petition. Minor was enrolled in high school, and his behavior and attendance had been satisfactory. He was receiving special education services for speech and language deficits. He was attending individual counseling. He denied using alcohol or drugs; tests were negative for drug use. The court continued Minor as a ward of the court and committed him to a residential program followed by supervision and monitoring in the community, and imposed conditions of probation. The court of appeal affirmed, modifying one probation condition that would categorically prohibit Minor from all use of social networking sites, and remanded for the limited purpose of addressing Minor’s educational needs. View "In re L.O." on Justia Law

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In 1988, when he was 17 years old, Palmer pled guilty to kidnapping for robbery. Sentenced to life with the possibility of parole, Palmer has appeared before the Board of Parole Hearings 10 times, without success. In 2015, the Board deferred Palmer’s next hearing for five years. Palmer requested reconsideration, arguing that the Board had wrongfully refused to set his base term and an adjusted base term and failed to give “great weight” to the statutory youth offender factors: “the diminished culpability of youth as compared to that of adults, the hallmark features of youth, and any subsequent growth and increased maturity,” Pen. Code 3051(f)(1), 4801(c). The Board denied Palmer’s request, stating that appropriate weight had been given to the youth offender factors and that it would address the base term issue. No response was forthcoming. The court of appeal issued an order; the Board calculated Palmer’s base and adjusted base terms. In the meantime, the California Supreme Court relieved the Board of its obligations to calculate base terms and adjusted base terms and vacated the court of appeal’s determination with respect to Palmer. The court of appeal then held that Palmer is entitled to a new hearing due to the Board's failure to comply with a statutory mandate to give “great weight” to factors related to Palmer having been a minor when he committed his crime. View "In re Palmer" on Justia Law

Posted in: Juvenile Law

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The subject of four 2014 juvenile petitions, G.C., claimed that the juvenile court erroneously failed to expressly declare her three 2014 Vehicle Code section 10851 violations for driving or taking a vehicle to be either felonies or misdemeanors. The dispositional order for the three 2014 section 10851 offenses was entered on November 19, 2015. G.C.’s notice of appeal was filed on February 1, 2016. The court of appeal dismissed that notice of appeal as untimely. G.C. raised no issues as to any other orders. The court published its opinion to express disagreement with the Fourth District Court of Appeal’s decision in In re Ramon M. which held that a failure to make an express declaration may be challenged in an appeal from a subsequent dispositional order. “The California Supreme Court has “steadfastly adhered to the fundamental precept that the timely filing of an appropriate notice of appeal or its legal equivalent is an absolute prerequisite to the exercise of appellate jurisdiction.” View "In re G.C." on Justia Law

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In 2017, the Public Guardian sought to establish a conservatorship of the person for Minor, age 16, who was admitted to John Muir Behavioral Health Center. Minor had been placed in the care of Alameda County’s Child Protective Services (CPS) over a year earlier and suffered multiple involuntary hospitalizations. She presented at John Muir “with suicidal ideation and poor impulse control.” The court appointed the Public Guardian as Minor’s temporary conservator. Trial testimony indicated that Minor suffered from PTSD, heard voices telling her she had no reason to live, had threatened to smother her roommate, engaged in “superficial self-injury,” and missed a lot of school. The court of appeal affirmed the order appointing the Public Guardian as the conservator of her person under the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act, Welf. & Inst. Code, 5000, rejecting arguments that the conservatorship investigator failed to conduct an investigation of all available alternatives to conservatorship; that the Public Guardian failed to prove she was gravely disabled; and that there was insufficient evidence to support her placement. There was sufficient evidence to support a finding of “grave disability” and that the placement was not more restrictive than necessary. View "Conservatorship of M.B." on Justia Law

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Defendant Richard Carter claimed cruel and unusual punishment in his sentence of 55 years to life in prison for a second-degree murder he committed at age 17, with personal use and discharge of a firearm causing death, possession of a firearm by a felon, and a prior strike conviction for robbery. The Attorney General acknowledged this sentence was the functional equivalent of a sentence of life in prison without possibility of parole (LWOP). To address defendant’s cruel and unusual punishment claim in the trial court, the trial court considered defendant’s youth in the context of considering whether to strike the prior conviction for purposes of three-strikes sentencing in furtherance of the interests of justice under Penal Code section 1385 and California v. Superior Court, 13 Cal.4th 497 (1996). This would have reduced the sentence to 40 years to life in prison. The trial court considered defendant’s youth but declined to strike the prior conviction, finding that although defendant was able to change, he was unwilling to do so. While this case was pending on appeal, the California Supreme Court held that a statute giving trial courts discretion to impose a sentence less than LWOP on a juvenile who commits special circumstance murder (Penal Code section 190.5) must be construed without a presumption in favor of LWOP (as previously construed by case law), in order that the statute not violate the Eighth Amendment. Other recent changes in law demand that the Court of Appeal not only vacate the sentence, but also conditionally reverse the conviction and remand to the trial court with directions to transfer the case to the juvenile court for a transfer hearing to determine the propriety of prosecution in adult criminal court had the case originally been filed in juvenile court. The Court so vacated and remanded for further proceedings. View "California v. Carter" on Justia Law