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Name: In re J.L.
Case #: G040507
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 12/16/2010
Subsequent History: rev. granted 3/2/11, (S189721)

Imposition of residency restrictions on a juvenile are so overwhelmingly punitive that a minor should be afforded a jury trial on the alleged sexual offense before the restrictions can be imposed. The juvenile court found the minor committed four lewd and lascivious acts. (Pen. Code, sec. 288, subd. (a).) As a result of the adjudications, and pursuant to Jessica’s Law (Prop. 83), the minor faced lifetime sex-offender registration and residency restrictions. He was also potentially exposed to a civil commitment as a sexually violent predator. The minor argued on appeal that these consequences were so dire that due process and equal protection required he be afforded a jury trial before they could be imposed. The Court of Appeal recognized that under U.S. Supreme Court precedent, juvenile adjudications generally do not require a jury trial as a matter of due process or equal protection. (McKeiver v. Pennsylvania (1971) 403 U.S. 528.) However, high court precedent, including McKeiver, teaches due process is a fluid concept and what it requires depends on the severity of consequences at stake. The reason juvenile adjudications do not require a jury trial generally is because of the informal, rehabilitative, and parens patriae (state as parent) nature of the juvenile system and because the consequences are generally less severe than those in the adult criminal system. However, in the context of residency restrictions, that is not the case. The residency restrictions are no less serious for a juvenile than they are for an adult. In fact, the consequences are greater for juveniles because the minor’s family may be forced to relocate or to evict the minor from the home. Moreover, the rehabilitative purpose of the juvenile system is absent since the restrictions will continue to apply regardless of reform. This also renders the parens patriae promise of the juvenile system illusory. Accordingly, due process and equal protection principles require a minor be afforded the right to a jury trial before residency restrictions can be imposed. The court clarified that it was not suggesting that the entire juvenile system had changed so dramatically in character so as to require jury trials in all delinquency proceedings. Rather, it limited its holding to the dispositional consequence of lifetime residency restrictions. In fact, the court rejected the argument that a minor should receive a jury trial on his sex offense adjudication because it subjected him to sex-offender registration and potentially exposed him to SVPA civil commitment proceedings. The California Supreme Court has concluded sex-offender registration is not punitive, but rather is regulatory in nature. (People v. Castellanos (1999) 21 Cal.4th 785, 796.) And, SVPA proceedings are for the purpose of treatment, not punishment. So neither of these dispositional consequences warrant a jury trial as a matter of due process or equal protection.