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Name: People v. Arroyo
Case #: S219178
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 01/14/2016

Welfare and Institutions Code section 707, subdivision (d) allows certain juveniles accused of specified offenses to be charged directly in criminal court by grand jury indictment. A grand jury indicted Arroyo, a juvenile, and six codefendants for various gang-related offenses. The grand jury also found reasonable cause to believe that Arroyo came within the provisions of section 707(d)(4), which permits charges against a juvenile to be filed directly in criminal court if certain criteria are met. Arroyo demurred to the indictment on the ground that section 707(d)(4) requires the prosecution to proceed by way of preliminary hearing and information when filing criminal charges against a minor in adult court. The trial court sustained the demurrer and dismissed Arroyo from the indictment. The People appealed and the Court of Appeal reversed. The Supreme Court granted review. Held: Affirmed. Section 707 gives prosecutors discretionary authority to file charges against minors directly in criminal court for specified offenses under specified circumstances. It provides that, in conjunction with a preliminary hearing, a magistrate shall make a finding that reasonable cause exists to believe that the minor comes within section 707(d)(4). However, it does not specify that a prosecution must proceed by preliminary hearing and information. Instead, the statute also provides that in a case where an “accusatory pleading” has been filed against a minor in a criminal court, “the case shall then proceed according to the laws applicable to a criminal case.” An “accusatory pleading” includes a grand jury indictment and prosecutions commenced by grand jury indictment normally proceed “according to the laws applicable to a criminal case.” As a result, section 707(d)(4) does preclude use of a grand jury indictment to initiate a prosecution against a minor in criminal court. In this situation, the grand jury must make the reasonable cause determination instead of the magistrate. [Editor’s Note: The court also disapproved People v. Superior Court (Gevorgyan) (2001) 91 Cal.App.4th 602, to the extent it holds section 707(d)(4) requires that the prosecution of a juvenile by discretionary direct filing in a court of criminal jurisdiction be initiated by information. Justice Liu filed a concurring opinion, joined by Justice Kruger, disagreeing with dictum in the majority opinion stating that a grand jury’s reasonable cause finding may be, but does not need to be, express.]

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: