The resentencing provisions of Penal Code section 1170.95 (Senate Bill No. 1437) apply to a juvenile whose murder allegation was sustained by the juvenile court on a natural and probable consequences theory. The juvenile court sustained an allegation that the minor committed second degree murder as the natural and probable consequence of a gang assault. On appeal, the minor sought reversal of the finding based on retroactive application of SB 1437, which eliminated the natural and probable consequences doctrine of murder. Held: Affirmed. Prior to the enactment of SB 1437, a defendant who aided and abetted a crime, the natural and probable consequences of which was murder, could be convicted of the target crime as well as the resulting murder (People v. Chiu (2014) 59 Cal.4th 155). Now, to be convicted of murder, a principal must act with malice aforethought. SB 1437 added Penal Code section 1170.95, which allows defendants convicted of murder on a natural and probable consequences theory to petition to vacate their conviction and be resentenced. Although section 1170.95 uses terminology not generally applicable to juvenile cases (“information,” “plea,” “sentence”), it must be read in the context of the relevant provisions of the Welfare and Institutions Code. A juvenile court’s jurisdiction over delinquents is premised on the violation of a criminal law (Welf. & Inst. Code, § 602), which is largely set forth in the Penal Code. When SB 1437 amended Penal Code section 188 to restrict the natural and probable consequences doctrine as it relates to murder, the Legislature presumptively knew that this amendment would apply to juvenile offenders. Permitting the juvenile to petition under section 1170.95 also aligns with the juvenile law’s primary purpose of rehabilitation and the requirement that a juvenile may not be held for longer than the maximum term that can be imposed upon an adult. Thus, section 1170.95 is also applicable to juvenile offenders and the minor must file a petition in the juvenile court to obtain relief.
The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: https://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/archive/B290029.PDF