Articles Posted in Juvenile Law

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Defendant Tom Phung was 17 years old when he and fellow Tiny Rascal Gang (TRG) members, riding in about five cars, chased a fleeing vehicle containing eight rival gang members. A TRG member two cars ahead shot and killed one rival and seriously wounded a second. A jury convicted defendant, as an aider and abettor, of the lesser included crime of second degree murder (count 1), attempted murder (count 2), shooting at an occupied motor vehicle (count 3), and street terrorism (count 4). With respect to the first three crimes, the jury found true the allegations that defendant committed them for the benefit of a criminal street gang, and vicariously discharged a firearm causing great bodily injury and death. Defendant was sentenced to an aggregate state prison term of 40 years to life. While defendant's appeal was pending, the electorate passed Proposition 57, the Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act of 2016, which went into effect in November 2016. In March 2017, the Court of Appeal issued an opinion affirming the judgment against defendant. Defendant petitioned for review before the California Supreme Court. While that petition was pending, another panel of the Court of Appeal issued an opinion holding Proposition 57 operated retroactively under the rule announced in In re Estrada, 63 Cal.2d 740 (1965). Defendant’s counsel, however, was unaware of the filing of the concurrent appellate opinion, and did not raise the issue before the California Supreme Court. The Supreme Court denied review, following which the Court of Appeal issued a remittitur. Defendant moved to recall the remittitur on the ground that his counsel had provided ineffective assistance of counsel in failing to raise the retroactivity of Proposition 57 to his own case. Defendant’s counsel admitted the error. The motion was granted, the remittitur recalled, and supplemental briefing was ordered. The Court of Appeal ultimately affirmed defendant's conviction, but concluded Proposition 57 applied retroactively to defendant. Therefore, the Court reversed and remanded this case for a transfer hearing and resentencing. View "California v. Phung" on Justia Law

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Minor A.R. (the Minor) challenged a dispositional order committing him to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Division of Juvenile Justice (hereafter, DJJ). At the time of the disposition hearing, the Minor was 18 years old. His history with the juvenile justice system began when he was 13 years old, and a petition was first filed against him. In 2012, he admitted two counts of residential burglary. and was declared a ward. Since then, he would be charged with various property crimes, culminating with burglary, robbery and use of a deadly weapon. He admitted to several probation violations, leading to the commitment order at issue here. The Minor argued the juvenile court abused its discretion in committing him to DJJ, on the grounds there was no substantial evidence that a less restrictive placement would be inappropriate or ineffective. He also argued the court erred by applying his custody credits to the overall maximum term of confinement, instead of the lower maximum term set by the court. In a supplemental brief, Minor argued there was no substantial evidence of probable benefit from the DJJ commitment, citing a recently decided case, In re Carlos J., 22 Cal.App.5th 1 (2018). The Court of Appeal rejected these contentions and affirmed the judgment. View "In re A.R." on Justia Law

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A juvenile court has the authority to require restitution for losses beyond those that resulted from the criminal conduct with which the minor is charged, if that restitution is a properly imposed condition of probation. The Court of Appeal affirmed the juvenile court's restitution order in this case, because the minor was placed on probation and because substantial evidence supported the juvenile court's findings that the minor was involved in the uncharged conduct and that holding him responsible for the full amount of loss to the victim furthered the purposes of probation. View "In re S.O." on Justia Law

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A wardship petition (Welfare and Institutions Code section 602) alleged four counts of attempted murder and firearm, gang, and great bodily injury enhancements against K.C. The prosecution moved to transfer K.C. to a court of criminal jurisdiction (section 707(a)(1)). That motion remains pending. In August 2017, K.C. turned 18 years of age. About a month later, the probation department filed a request to remand K.C. to county jail pursuant to section 208.5. After hearing testimony about K.C.’s conduct in juvenile detention, the juvenile court granted the request, finding it had transfer authority under sections 207.6 and 208.5. The court of appeal affirmed, rejecting K.C.’s argument that section 208.5 does not grant the juvenile court authority to transfer an 18-year-old to county jail prior to the juvenile being found unfit for juvenile court jurisdiction. View "K.C. v. Superior Court" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeal granted habeas relief and ordered the release of petitioner on parole. After petitioner was found suitable for parole under the youth offender provisions of Penal Code sections 3051 and 4801, he was not released but required to serve an additional consecutive, eight-year term for a conviction he sustained while in prison when he was 26 years old. In re Trejo (2017) 10 Cal.App.5th 972, 980, a youth offender found suitable for release on parole pursuant to section 3051, was not required, before being released, to serve a consecutive sentence imposed for a crime he committed in prison at age 20. The court held that In re Trejo compelled the conclusion that petitioner be released, petitioner was suitable for release on parole, and his period of parole must be reduced by the amount of time he has served since being found suitable for release. View "In re Williams" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeal affirmed the juvenile court's determination that D.A. committed misdemeanor battery and order of six month probation. The court held that the prosecutor presented sufficient evidence to establish the corpus delicti of misdemeanor battery independently of D.A.'s statements to a police officer. In this case, the officer responded to a disturbance call and found D.A. standing in the driveway. She told the officer that she had slapped and pushed her boyfriend and the boyfriend was visibly upset with injuries on his face. View "In re D.A." on Justia Law

Posted in: Juvenile Law

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The Court of Appeal affirmed the juvenile court's determination that D.A. committed misdemeanor battery and order of six month probation. The court held that the prosecutor presented sufficient evidence to establish the corpus delicti of misdemeanor battery independently of D.A.'s statements to a police officer. In this case, the officer responded to a disturbance call and found D.A. standing in the driveway. She told the officer that she had slapped and pushed her boyfriend and the boyfriend was visibly upset with injuries on his face. View "In re D.A." on Justia Law

Posted in: Juvenile Law

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V.D., a worker at the Pittsburg Marina, saw G.B. with other young men near the maintenance yard, through a cyclone fence. He went inside a building where he could see them through an open door approximately 30 feet away. V.D. saw G.B., standing, while the others were sitting, dancing and waving a gun in the air. About five minutes later, police arrived, detained the young men, and discovered a shotgun and a revolver in the area where the young men had been. V.D. identified G.B. as the person who had been holding the gun. Officer Baker and V.D. both testified that G.B. was wearing white, but photographs of the individuals detained by police show him wearing black. G.B. was placed on juvenile probation after the court sustained allegations he possessed a concealable firearm (Penal Code section 29610). The court of appeal affirmed in part, rejecting an argument that the jurisdictional finding must be reversed because the eyewitness identification was unreliable. The court struck a probation condition requiring that G.B. “have peaceful contact only with all law enforcement” as unconstitutionally vague and narrowed a condition that G.B. stay away from any school campus unless enrolled to be consistent with state law concerning visiting school grounds. View "In re G.B." on Justia Law

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Minor, age 15, fell asleep in class, admitted he smoked marijuana the night before, and acquiesced to being searched, volunteering that he had a knife. The assistant principal found a folding pocket knife with a three-inch blade, rolling papers, and lighters. The Napa County DA filed a wardship petition (Welfare and Institutions Code 602) alleging a misdemeanor. Minor admitted the offense. The matter was continued. Two weeks later, Minor was arrested for smoking marijuana. The court declared Minor a ward of the court, placed him on probation, to be served in his mother’s home, and prohibited knowingly using or possessing alcohol or controlled substances, with a testing requirement. A second petition alleged that Minor tested positive for, and admitted using, marijuana and tested positive for Xanax. Two months later, another petition alleged that Minor failed to attend school, used marijuana, was discharged from a treatment program for noncompliance, and admitted using alcohol. Minor admitted using marijuana and alcohol. Before the dispositional hearing, the probation officer reported Minor had tested negative for controlled substances, was doing well in school, and had begun working. The treatment program advised that Minor was “doing very well.” The court continued him as a ward with a new probation condition allowing searches of his electronic devices and requiring him to disclose necessary passwords. The court of appeal struck the electronics search condition as unconstitutionally overbroad. View "In re D.B." on Justia Law

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On the evening of January 12, 2017, Deputy Slawson was on duty at the Barstow Sheriff’s Department. At about 7:30 p.m., she was asked by a fellow deputy to watch a juvenile he had detained (minor R.W.) during a stolen vehicle investigation until her mother arrived to pick her up. The department had a policy which required minors in sheriff’s custody to be kept at the station for their safety until they could be released to their parent or another authorized adult. At the time she was turned over to Deputy Slawson’s custody, minor was no longer under investigation and no charges were being filed against her. Deputy Slawson escorted minor into the report-writing room and told her to have a seat until her mother arrived. As Deputy Slawson was doing paperwork on an unrelated matter, R.W. began speaking to her about the vehicle theft. R.W. said she stole the car, and she wanted to speak with the deputy who made the initial traffic stop and arrested the driver. R.W. asked to use Deputy Slawson’s personal cell phone to call the deputy, but Deputy Slawson refused. Minor became frustrated and increasingly impatient. Deputy Slawson then asked R.W. some basic questions about the case. When it became clear from R.W.'s responses that she had no involvement in the car theft, Deputy Slawson told minor that she did not need to lie to make herself a suspect in that case. R.W. got upset, grabbed her bags, and walked out of the room; she refused to comply with the deputy's commands to return. Another female deputy helped Deputy Slawson stop R.W. from leaving, and a third deputy eventually came to assist as well. R.W. resisted the deputies’ efforts, and she was handcuffed. R.W. was seated back in the report-writing room but was not arrested. After about 10 minutes, the handcuffs were removed. R.W.'s mother arrived 15 to 20 minutes later and took custody. Deputy Slawson issued R.W. a citation for resisting a peace officer, and a juvenile court subsequently found true the allegation that minor violated Penal Code section 148(a)(1). R.W. appealed her conviction, arguing insufficient evidence to support the juvenile court’s finding, because her custody was unlawful at the time Deputy Slawson restrained her from leaving. Finding no reversible error, the Court of Appeal affirmed the conviction. View "In re R.W." on Justia Law