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Name: In re K.J.
Case #: A137787
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 03/20/2014
Summary

Minor may be placed in the Division of Juvenile Facilities (DJF) based on amendment to Welfare and Institutions Code that occurred after he became a ward. In August 2008, the 12-year-old minor admitted molesting his younger brother (Pen. Code, § 288, subd. (a)). He was declared a ward and placed on probation in the custody of his grandparents. When they could not control him he was sent to three different residential treatment programs, but failed in each one. At a contested disposition hearing, the court committed the minor to DJF in a long-term sex offender program. The minor objected, claiming he was ineligible for such a commitment when he was declared a ward. Held: Affirmed. When the minor was adjudicated a ward, he was not eligible for DJF placement because his section 288 violation was not a section 707, subdivision (b) offense. In February 2012, the Legislature passed AB 324, amending section 731, subdivision (a)(4) to allow a DJF commitment when the minor’s offense was listed in section 707, subdivision (b), or subdivision (c) of Penal Code section 290.008, if the minor was not otherwise ineligible under section 733. The legislative history reflects AB 324 was intended to be retroactive. This does not violate the prohibition against ex post facto laws, although the law changes the legal consequences for the minor’s act completed before the law’s effective date, because it was not intended to inflict greater punishment; its goal is to protect public safety and to provide care and treatment consistent with the minor’s best interest.