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Name: In re Jose O.
Case #: A141001
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Opinion Date: 12/09/2014

Evidence that appellant was in the presence of a minor engaged in delinquent conduct was insufficient to support a finding that appellant contributed to the delinquency of the minor (Pen. Code, § 272, subd. (a)(1)). Jose O.’s girlfriend, A.N., ran away from home. Her father, Steven N. found her at Jose O.’s house, but A.N. and Jose O. ran when they spotted him. The next day, Steven N. found the two again. This time, Steven N. was able to catch A.N. despite her attempt to flee with Jose O. According to Steven N., A.N. looked high on drugs. The District Attorney filed a wardship petition (Welf. & Inst. Code, § 602, subd. (a)) alleging that Jose O. committed numerous offenses, including a misdemeanor for contributing to the delinquency of a minor (Pen. Code, § 272, subd. (a)(1)). The juvenile court found the count true. Jose O. appealed, arguing that there was insufficient evidence to support the finding. Held: Reversed. The offense of contributing to the delinquency of a minor requires an act or failure to perform a duty that causes or induces a minor to engage in delinquent conduct. Here, there was sufficient evidence that A.N. was engaged in delinquent conduct. She ran away from home and from her father when he tried to catch her. However, there was insufficient evidence that Jose O. committed an act that caused or induced A.N. to do so. Although Jose O. fled from Steven N. along with A.N., there was no evidence that Jose O. said anything or made any gestures encouraging A.N. to run. The Court of Appeal concluded it could not “hold that a minor contributes to the delinquency of another minor when they simply run away from authority figures at the same time.” Similarly, the fact A.N. appeared intoxicated after being in Jose O.’s presence was insufficient to prove Jose O. provided A.N. drugs or encouraged her to use them. Further, Jose O.’s flight from Steven N., by itself, did not establish guilt.