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Name: In re Gary F.
Case #: H039701
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 6 DCA
Opinion Date: 05/30/2014

Juvenile court is not authorized to impose attorney fees on a minor who is under 18 years of age when counsel is appointed. The juvenile court sustained a Welfare and Institutions Code section 602 petition charging residential burglary against the 17-year-old minor. Without objection, it also assessed attorney’s fees against the minor, who at the time of disposition was 18 years old. On appeal he challenged the sufficiency of the evidence and the court’s award of attorney’s fees. Held: Fees reversed. Although it is unclear whether the court assessed attorney’s fees against the minor or his parents, the court-signed order provides they are jointly and severally liable. Under section 903.1, subdivision (a) the juvenile court is authorized to assess attorney’s fees against the minor’s parents and others, but there is no provision for imposition of such fees on the minor. The fact the minor was 18 years old when the fees were assessed does not authorize the court to impose them because he was under 18 when counsel was appointed.

The minor’s role as a “lookout” during the burglary provided sufficient evidence he aided and abetted the crime. The evidence at the contested hearing showed the minor and several friends were “casing” a neighborhood, going door-to-door. A neighbor who investigated the boys’ activities saw the minor circling his bike in front of a house that one of the boys had entered. As the neighbor approached him, the minor appeared nervous. He whistled as the neighbor approached the back of the house, at which time another boy exited the house. This was more than “mere presence” evidence and supported the burglary finding based on aiding and abetting.