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Name: In re M.L.
Case #: A142299
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 12/16/2015

Juvenile court properly committed minor to the Division of Juvenile Facilities (DJF) where minor committed an offense that was eligible for DJF commitment and an offense that was not eligible for DJF commitment simultaneously. M.L. admitted allegations in a juvenile delinquency petition that he committed a robbery and possessed a concealable firearm. He was committed to DJF. On appeal, M.L. claimed his “most recent offense,” was possession of a concealable firearm, which is ineligible for a DJF commitment (Welf. & Inst. Code, § 733, subd. (c)). Held: Affirmed. A DJF commitment is prohibited where the minor had been adjudged a ward pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code section 602, and the most recent offense alleged in any petition and found true is not described in section 707, subdivision (b). (Welf. & Inst. Code, § 733.) Section 707 includes robbery, but not gun possession. When a minor commits a series of crimes, the trial court’s discretion to impose a DJF commitment depends on the type of offense the minor committed last. Here M.L. committed a robbery at gunpoint. When stopped by police he was in possession of a concealable gun. However, M.L.’s possession of the gun necessarily preceded the robbery. Further, the two crimes ended at the same time when M.L.’s car was stopped by police shortly after the taking, as the crime of robbery continues until the perpetrator reaches a place of temporary safety. Section 733 was intended to address budget concerns by reducing the number of delinquents in state facilities, but diversion of a minor to local responsibility applies only to wards who are not currently violent. There is no question that a minor like M.L. is currently violent and the juvenile court should have discretion to select DJF.

The juvenile court did not abuse its discretion by committing the minor to DJF. A juvenile court’s decision to commit a minor to DJF will not be overturned unless it exceeds the bounds of reason. While this was M.L.’s first offense, he committed a robbery with a loaded gun. His comments while in the police car that “it’s over” and he might “get an armed robbery” reflect premeditation and sophistication. M.L. had a disciplinary school record, including knife possession. He admitted gang association and drug use. The court found that DJF offered a greater array of rehabilitative resources for M.L. and appropriately exercised its discretion after carefully considering his needs.