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Name: In re Miguel H.
Case #: B214864
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 7
Opinion Date: 01/12/2010

A school is a “public place” for the purpose of Penal Code section 594.1, subdivision (e)(1), which prohibits a person under the age of 18 years from possessing an aerosol container to deface a public place. The minor, accused of drawing graffiti on public school property, was removed from the classroom and his backpack was searched. Inside the backpack were shoe polish, spray paint, and an etching tool. A Welfare and Institutions Code section 602 petition was sustained after the juvenile court found that appellant possessed tools to graffiti, in violation of section 594.1, subdivision (e)(1). The appellate court rejected the minor’s argument that the school was not a public place because access was limited. Black’s Law Dictionary defines public place as a place to which the general public has a right to resort and a place in which the public has an interest as affecting the safety, health, morals, and welfare of the community. A public school falls within this definition. Further, in construing a statute, the goal is to implement the intent of the Legislature. The legislative goal of eliminating graffiti from public and privately owned property is furthered by the conclusion that public schools are public places for the purposes of the statute.