Articles Posted in Juvenile 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

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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