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Name: In re L.C.
Case #: B294490
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 08/12/2019

Evidence that a guardian used methamphetamine was insufficient to support dependency jurisdiction. Pedro was the six-year-old minor’s legal guardian. The Department filed a petition alleging that Pedro abused methamphetamine, and was therefore unable to care for the minor. DCFS put on evidence that Pedro tested positive for methamphetamine. Pedro admitted the methamphetamine use, but said he never used the drug or was intoxicated around the minor, and he left the minor in the care of another adult in the home when he went out and used methamphetamine. There was no evidence that the minor was anything but well cared for. The juvenile court sustained the petition. The appellate court reversed the orders, finding that the juvenile court erred in assuming jurisdiction over the minor for two reasons. No substantial evidence showed that Pedro abused methamphetamine and no substantial evidence showed that the minor was at substantial risk of physical harm as a result of Pedro’s methamphetamine use. The evidence showed only that Pedro used methamphetamine. There was no indicia of a substance abuse disorder. There was no evidence at all that Pedro ignored his parental responsibilities as a result of his occasional methamphetamine use, and no evidence that there was methamphetamine in the home where the minor lived. Physical harm is not presumed from a parent or guardian’s substance abuse. Use of methamphetamine without more cannot support jurisdiction.