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Name: In re Carlos E.
Case #: F045287
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 5 DCA
Opinion Date: 04/01/2005

Welfare and Institutions Code section 731, amended by Senate Bill No. 459 (2003-2004 Reg. Sess.), operative January 1, 2004, requires the juvenile court to exercise its discretion to determine the maximum term of a minor’s confinement at CYA based on the facts and circumstances of the minor’s case and not simply to calculate the maximum term that could be imposed on an adult. The opinion reviews developments in juvenile law in tandem with the Determinate Sentencing Law since 1976, concluding that Welfare and Institutions Code section 726, which sets the maximum confinement time to that which could be imposed on an adult convicted of the same offense or offenses and enhancements, does not conflict with section 731, but simply provides an outside limit on confinement time. The court found further support for this conclusion in amendments to Welfare and Institutions Code section 1766, which were also part of Senate Bill No. 459, and reference section 731. The court additionally relied on the rule of statutory construction that when a specific and general provision concern the same matter, the specific provision governs, whether it was passed before or after the general statute. In an aside, the court observed that there is nothing in the legislation or its history to suggest that a juvenile court is restricted to the adult sentencing triad. The court did not rely on legislative history because it concluded the section 731 was not ambiguous, but described the stated rationale for the changes in Senate Bill 459 “as confirmation of” its conclusion about the plain meaning of the statute.