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Name: People v. Castel
Case #: B271396
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 06/26/2017
Summary

Trial court properly overruled demurrer to parole revocation petition filed by district attorney that was not accompanied by the written report that must accompany petitions filed by supervising parole agencies. Castel was convicted of felony assault, sentenced to three years in state prison, and subsequently released on parole. In 2015, while on parole, Castel was convicted of misdemeanor criminal threats. Soon thereafter, the district attorney filed a petition seeking revocation of Castel’s parole. Castel filed a demurrer to the petition, arguing that the petition was facially deficient because it was not accompanied by the written report required for petitions by supervising parole agencies. The trial court overruled the demurrer. Castel appealed after admitting the parole violation. Held: Affirmed. When a supervising agency files a petition to modify, revoke, or terminate a criminal defendant’s parole or postrelease community supervision, its petition must be accompanied by a written report containing information specified by statute and the California Rules of Court. (Pen. Code, §§ 1203.2, subd. (b)(1), 3000.08, subd. (f); Cal. Rules of Court, rule 4.541.) However, if the petition is filed by the district attorney, no such written report is required. When a supervising agency fails to include the statutorily required written report with a petition for revocation, the pleading is deficient and subject to demurrer. (People v. Osorio (2015) 235 Cal.App.4th 1408, 1412–1415.) Here, the trial court properly overruled the demurrer because the pertinent statutes do not require a petition filed by the district attorney to be accompanied by a written report. As a result, the district attorney’s failure to include the report does not render the pleading deficient.

There is no equal protection violation when a district attorney files a petition to modify, revoke, or terminate a defendant’s parole or postrelease community supervision without the written report required for such petitions filed by a supervising agency. Castel also filed a “motion for sanctions” seeking an order compelling the preparation of the written report, asserting that the Legislature’s failure to require a written report for district attorney-filed petitions violated equal protection. The trial court rejected the equal protection argument. The Court of Appeal agreed. In order to evaluate an equal protection claim, the court must determine whether there are two groups of individuals who are similarly situated but are being treated differently, and if so, whether there is a rational relationship between the disparity of treatment and some legitimate governmental purpose. The two groups Castel identified (former state prisoners subject to parole and postrelease community supervision whose revocation proceedings are initiated by a petition from the supervising agency and those whose revocation proceedings are initiated by a petition from the district attorney) are not similarly situated. Because petitions filed by district attorneys necessarily allege the commission of a public offense while petitions filed by supervising agencies can allege a far broader universe of more technical parole violations, the two groups involve different degrees of violations. It is also unclear that the two groups are being treated differently because the court is required to refer a petition filed by the district attorney to the supervising agency for completion of a written report. Additionally, there is a rational basis for the different requirements because the information contained within the written report is not readily available to the district attorney and is generally less relevant to a petition filed by the district attorney alleging the commission of public offenses rather than technical violations of the supervision terms.

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/B271396.PDF