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Name: In re Jose S.
Case #: D070521
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 06/21/2017

Juvenile court may not seal a portion of a juvenile court record where one of two separately brought petitions included a disqualifying offense, because both petitions are part of the same case. In 2002, Jose admitted an allegation in a Welfare and Institutions Code section 602 proceeding of committing lewd acts on a minor (Pen. Code, § 288, subd. (b)). In 2005 a subsequent petition charged him with assault with a deadly weapon. Jose admitted this allegation. He moved in 2015 to seal his juvenile records (Welf. & Inst. Code, § 781). The trial court wanted to seal records for the 2002 case, but found the assault with a deadly weapon was a disqualifying offense and, as they were part of the same case, found it lacked discretion to seal the records in the earlier case. Jose appealed. Held: Affirmed. A juvenile court record may be sealed when the juvenile reaches his majority or after five years from the date on which juvenile court jurisdiction terminates if the former ward has not been convicted of a felony or any misdemeanor involving moral turpitude (Welf. & Inst. Code, § 781). Once the record has been sealed the case is deemed never to have occurred. However, there is an exclusion under section 781 for any case in which a person has been found to have committed an offense listed in Welfare and Institutions Code section 707, subdivision (b). Assault by means of force likely to inflict great bodily injury is a section 707, subdivision (b) offense. Jose’s disqualifying offense is part of the same case he sought to seal, because successive juvenile petitions are filed under a single case number to foster the goals of treatment and rehabilitation of juvenile offenders. Further, the wording of the statute, which uses the plural “records of arrest” suggests requests for sealing are directed at all of the juvenile court records of the former ward, not just a particular offense. Because both of Jose’s petitions are part of the same case, and his 2005 offense is one listed in section 707, subdivision (b), he is foreclosed from seeking the relief requested.

Assault with a deadly weapon falls within Welfare and Institutions Code, section 707, subdivision (b)(14). Jose also alleged that his 2005 offense did not come within section 707, subdivision (b) because his admission of assault with a deadly weapon and personal use of a knife does not qualify as an assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury under section 707, subdivision (b)(14). However, the juvenile court is not limited to considering only the allegation contained in the petition when it determines whether the minor committed a section 707, subdivision (b) offense. The juvenile court here had before it evidence that Jose stabbed a boy three times with a knife, causing serious bodily injuries. The facts of the case amply support the juvenile court’s determination that the offense amounted to assault by means of force likely to cause great bodily injury.

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