Justia California Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Juvenile Law
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Raymundo M. was charged in juvenile court with assault with a deadly weapon, making a criminal threat, and brandishing a weapon after he raised a switchblade-like knife head-high and chased another minor while orally threatening him. The juvenile court found the charges and certain of the enhancement allegations true, declared Raymundo a ward of the court, and placed him with his mother under the supervision of the probation department. On appeal, Raymundo contended: (1) insufficient evidence supported the true finding on the assault count because he never got within striking distance of the victim or made stabbing or slashing motions with the knife; (2) the juvenile court failed to expressly declare whether it was treating the "wobbler" assault count as a felony or a misdemeanor, as required by Welfare and Institutions Code section 702; and (3) the court erred by imposing duplicative punishment on the criminal-threat and assault counts, in violation of Penal Code section 654. Finding no reversible error, the Court of Appeal affirmed. View "In re Raymundo M." on Justia Law

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In October 2018, S.J. (born September 2001) consumed alcohol and drove. He veered off the road and hit a parked car and a fence. Responding officers observed signs of intoxication. A breath test showed S.J.’s blood-alcohol level was 0.12%. A petition under Welfare and Institutions Code 602(a) alleged: misdemeanor driving under the influence; misdemeanor driving while having a blood-alcohol level of 0.08% or more; and misdemeanor driving without a license. In February 2019, the juvenile court found S.J. not suitable for informal supervision, commenting “a standard term in adult-land for a DUI is search and seizure for alcohol. … it’s particularly important when we have a minor . . . whose … mother has allowed ... the minor to consume alcohol. … I just don’t see how, in a DUI with a .12 and a minor who also smokes marijuana, we can effectively supervise and ensure rehabilitation without a search and seizure clause, which is foreclosed in an informal probation setting.”The court sustained two allegations, dismissing the driving without a license allegation, declared S.J. a ward of the court, and directed the Probation Department to supervise him at home. The court imposed a $75 restitution fine, a $390 fine for violation of Vehicle Code section 23152, and $1,355 in penalties. The court of appeal affirmed the denial of informal supervision but remanded for recalculation of the penalties, most of which were inapplicable in this noncriminal proceeding. View "In re S.J." on Justia Law

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Terrence Brownlee was 19 years old when he was sentenced to 17 years to life in state prison for second degree murder committed with a firearm.The Court of Appeal held that Brownlee was not entitled to a youth offender parole hearing, because the statutory framework's plain language, Penal Code sections 3051, 3051.1, and 4801, does not afford him one. The court explained that, within this statutory framework, if a prisoner's first parole hearing is not a youth offender parole hearing, then the prisoner does not receive a youth offender parole hearing. Such prisoners are still entitled to have the board consider the diminished culpability of youth as compared to adults, the hallmark features of youth, and any subsequent growth and maturity. View "In re Brownlee" on Justia Law

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In 2008, defendant-appellant Adrian Federico pled guilty to assault with a firearm. He admitted he personally used the firearm in the commission of the offense, personally inflicted great bodily injury, and committed the offense for the benefit of a street gang. The trial court sentenced him to a total term of 20 years in state prison. Ten years later, the superior court received a letter from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), recommending that the court recall and resentence defendant under section 1170(d), stating the court should not have imposed both a GBI and gang enhancement in light of California v. Gonzalez, 178 Cal.App.4th 1325 (2009). Defendant thereafter moved the court to apply Proposition 57 and transfer jurisdiction to the juvenile court (he was 15 years old at the time of the offense). The trial court declined to apply Proposition 57, since defendant’s judgment was final long before Proposition 57 took effect. However, the court concluded it would provide him with Gonzalez relief by resentencing him to 17 years in state prison, consisting of four years on count 1, plus three years on the GBI enhancement, and 10 years on the personal firearm enhancement. The court imposed but stayed the 10-year gang enhancement under Penal Code section 654. On appeal, defendant argued the trial court erred in denying his request to apply Proposition 57 and/or Senate Bill No. 1391 (2017-2018 Reg. Sess.) and remand the matter to the juvenile court. Finding no reversible error, however, the Court of Appeal affirmed. View "California v. Federico" on Justia Law

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Defendant was convicted of a murder he committed when he was 16 years old and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole (LWOP). The trial court subsequently sentenced defendant to LWOP at a second resentencing. In the interim, Proposition 57 was passed, prohibiting prosecutors from charging juveniles with crimes directly in adult court.The Court of Appeal conditionally reversed defendant's sentence and remanded for him to receive a transfer hearing in the juvenile court. Because defendant's original sentence was vacated and his sentence is no longer final, and because Proposition 57's primary ameliorative effect is on a juvenile offender's sentence, the court held that the measure applies to preclude imposition of sentence on defendant as an adult, absent a transfer hearing. The court held that, regardless of his current age, defendant fits within the Supreme Court's holding that the voters intended Proposition 57 to apply as broadly as possible. View "People v. Padilla" on Justia Law

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Welfare and Institutions Code section 733, subdivision (c), is clear: DJJ commitment is permitted only if the minor's most recent offense is listed in Penal Code section 290.008, subdivision (c), or Welfare and Institutions Code section 707, subdivision (b).The Court of Appeal vacated the commitment order, because the latest offense defendant committed is listed in neither statute. In this case, defendant committed kidnapping during the commission of a carjacking, kidnapping to commit robbery, second degree robbery, and unlawfully driving or taking a vehicle. Prosecutors also alleged that defendant restricted or obstructed a peace officer later the same night. The court remanded for a new dispositional hearing. View "In re B.J." on Justia Law

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Where a juvenile court vacates its true finding on a generic murder allegation and redesignates it as a finding on an uncharged target offense, and does so before a minor has had the opportunity to contest the court's findings or orders, the minor may challenge the sufficiency of the evidence of the redesignated offense on appeal.The Court of Appeal held that there was insufficient evidence to support the juvenile court's decision sustaining the allegations that I.A. possessed a concealable firearm and committed vandalism. Therefore, the court reversed the juvenile court's findings, vacating the jurisdiction and disposition order and dismissing the Welfare and Institutions Code section 602 petition. View "In re I.A." on Justia Law

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Anthony and Taylor, the parents of Aubrey, born in 2011, had an on-again-off-again relationship. At the time of the birth, Taylor was staying with Aubrey’s maternal great-grandparents. Anthony was present at Aubrey’s birth but was not named on the birth certificate. Weeks later, Taylor and Aubrey moved in with Anthony; when Aubrey was six months old, they got married. According to Taylor, Anthony was often absent because he had a serious alcohol and drug abuse problem and sometimes committed acts of domestic violence against Taylor. When Aubrey was three years old, Anthony and Taylor separated. Taylor and Aubrey moved in with Aubrey's great-grandparents. Taylor obtained a temporary restraining order against Anthony that precluded contact with her or Aubrey. After the TRO was lifted, Taylor allowed Anthony to have visits with Aubrey outside the great-grandparents’ home. In November 2015, after learning that Taylor was missing, Anthony filed a petition for the dissolution of the marriage and sought custody of Aubrey. The juvenile court terminated Anthony’s paternal rights under Family Code section 7822 and declared Aubrey free for adoption by her great-grandparents.The court of appeal reversed. The evidence did not support a finding that Anthony’s efforts to have contact with Aubrey were mere token communications that did not overcome the statutory presumption of abandonment; there was no substantial evidence that Anthony intended to abandon Aubrey during the relevant period. View "In re Aubrey T." on Justia Law

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Based on allegations that the minor exposed himself to (Penal Code 314.1) and solicited sex from his 14-year-old female classmate and touched another classmate in a sexual manner (Penal Code 242), the juvenile court placed the minor on probation with multiple conditions. The court of appeal struck an electronics search condition. Nothing in the record establishes that the electronics search condition is valid as “reasonably related to future criminality,” and a treatment provider’s finding of “therapeutic necessity” at some later date is not equivalent to a finding that the burden imposed is proportional to the legitimate interests served by the condition. The court modified conditions relating to fees, the possession of materials or items that have a primary purpose of causing sexual arousal, and the minor’s proximity to the campus or grounds of any school unless enrolled, accompanied, or authorized. The court upheld conditions relating to psychological evaluations and polygraph testing, View "In re David C." on Justia Law

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Respondent J.H. was ordered to pay restitution as part of a 2005 juvenile delinquency adjudication. J.H.’s wardship terminated on June 6, 2014, after which writs of execution were issued for the unpaid balance. J.H. subsequently moved to quash. The superior court granted the motion, finding the restitution order was no longer valid because the 10-year enforcement period for money judgments had expired without renewal of the restitution order as required by section 683.020 of the Code of Civil Procedure. The State appealed, contending restitution orders imposed in delinquency proceedings were not subject to the 10-year enforcement period of Code of Civil Procedure section 683.020. The Court of Appeal concluded that, while restitution orders in delinquency cases were enforceable as money judgments and could be converted to money judgments, they were not money judgments for the purpose of the 10-year enforcement limit. Accordingly, the Court reversed. View "In re J.H." on Justia Law