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Name: In re J.S.
Case #: D070163
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 12/05/2016

Juvenile court did not err by designating minor to be a dual status child where county had a dual status protocol in place and minor was not responding to dependency services. After her father raped her, J.S. tried to commit suicide. Her family was unwilling to care for her so she became a dependent of the juvenile court (Welf. & Inst. Code, § 300). She lashed out by destroying group home property and assaulting a fellow psych patient. A section 602 petition was filed. Probation and the San Diego County Department of Health and Human Services conferred and recommended dual jurisdiction under sections 300 and 602. The juvenile court agreed, adjudged her a ward, and designated her a dual status youth. J.S. appealed that designation arguing that the 602 petition should have been dismissed. Held: Affirmed. The law permits dual status designations if the county has a written protocol for making them. (§ 241.1, subd. (e); In re W.B. (2012) 55 Cal.4th 30, 46-47.) San Diego County is one of 18 counties with such a protocol. Dual status designations are reviewed for abuse of discretion. The juvenile court did not abuse its discretion in this case. J.S. was not responding to dependency services and committed the instant offenses leading to the 602 petition after she had been receiving dependency services for over a year. Her aggressive behavior seemed to be escalating. “It is thus clear that the [dependency] services the Agency had provided to J.S. were not sufficient to address her complex rehabilitative needs and hold her accountable for her actions. Based on the record before us, the juvenile court could reasonably have concluded that J.S. would benefit from being a dual jurisdiction child.”

Juvenile court did not err by ordering J.S. held at juvenile hall pending an available placement. On appeal, J.S. also argued that she should have been released to the Agency, not detained at juvenile hall, pending an available placement. The Court of Appeal disagreed. “[T]he [juvenile] court [does not] necessarily abuse its discretion by ordering the most restrictive placement before other options have been tried.” (In re Eddie M. (2003) 31 Cal.4th 480, 507.) In In re Bianca S. (2015) 241 Cal.App.4th 1272, 1275, the appellate court held a juvenile court abused its discretion when it ordered a minor detained in juvenile hall before he had been adjudged a ward absent an “urgent necessity.” Here, by contrast, J.S.’s detention at juvenile occurred after she had been adjudged a ward. At that point, juvenile court’s are afforded “broad discretion in crafting dispositional orders, including placement decisions.” Since J.S. was self-harming and assaulting others, the juvenile court did not abuse its discretion by ordering her detained pending a placement elsewhere.

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: