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Name: In re A.O.
Case #: B282149
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 6
Opinion Date: 12/12/2017
Summary

Juvenile court did not have authority to dismiss a count in a juvenile delinquency petition post-disposition so the minor would be eligible for commitment to the Division of Juvenile Facilities (DJF). The minor admitted allegations in a May 2014 Welfare and Institutions Code section 602 petition that he committed a robbery, and several weeks later, resisted an executive officer. He was declared a ward and placed on probation. Subsequently, allegations the minor had violated probation were found true and the trial court ordered the minor committed to DJF. This commitment order was rejected because the minor’s most recent offense, resisting an executive officer, is not one of the statutory offenses which allows a state commitment (Welf. & Inst. Code, § 707, subd. (b), Pen. Code, § 733, subd. (c)). In April 2017, the juvenile court then granted the prosecution’s motion to dismiss the non-qualifying offense, so the minor would be eligible for a DJF commitment. The defense objected to the trial court’s actions and the minor appealed. Held: Reversed. A juvenile may not be committed to DJF where the most recent offense alleged in any petition and admitted or found to be true is not one described by section 707, subdivision (b), or Penal Code section 290.008, subdivision (c). (Welf. & Inst. Code, § 733, subd. (c).) This plainly refers to the last offense that was adjudicated. Under Welfare and Institutions Code section 782 (which operates much like Penal Code section 1385), the juvenile court has discretion to dismiss the petition or set aside the findings at the disposition stage of the proceedings (In re Greg F. (2012) 55 Cal.4th 393). But here the juvenile court dismissed one count in a section 602 petition almost three years after disposition. Neither the prosecution nor juvenile court judges have post-dispositional authority to dismiss individual counts of a section 602 petition for the sole purpose of securing a DJF commitment.

Even if the juvenile court had authority to order a post-dispositional dismissal of one allegation in a section 602 petition, the record in this case does not support the dismissal. The minor admitted the allegations in the section 602 petition in 2014, although the record of that proceeding was not before the reviewing court. Thus, it is unclear whether the admissions were made pursuant to a plea agreement, or whether representations were made regarding the minor’s potential placement. Further, a dismissal under Welfare and Institutions Code section 782 must be supported by a statement of reasons set forth in the minutes, which were not provided in this case. A dismissal ordered to make a minor eligible for a state commitment is an insufficient statement of reasons.

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/B282149.PDF