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Name: People v. Greg F.
Case #: S191868
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 08/27/2012

A juvenile court has discretion to dismiss a Welfare and Institutions Code section 602 petition under Welfare and Institutions Code section 782 for the purpose of allowing a DJF commitment on the minor’s previously sustained 602 petition. Minor admitted a 602 petition alleging assault likely to produce great bodily injury. This offense is one listed in Welfare and Institutions Code section 707, subdivision (b), thereby making the minor eligible for a commitment to DJF under Welfare and Institutions Code section 733, subdivision (c). Instead of committing the minor to DJF, however, the juvenile court ordered an out-of-home placement. Almost a year later, a new 602 petition was filed and minor admitted a battery and an associated gang enhancement allegation. Neither offense is listed in section 707, subdivision (b). Before the dispositional hearing, the court granted the prosecution’s motion to set aside the admission. The offense then was alleged as a violation of probation (Welf. & Inst. Code, § 777), which minor admitted. He was committed to DJF. The California Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeal’s judgment reversing the dispositional order. Resolving a split in the Courts of Appeal, the court held that section 733, subdivision (c) does not deprive the juvenile court of its discretion to dismiss a 602 petition and commit a ward to DJF when, in compliance with section 782, such a dismissal is in the interests of justice and for the benefit of the minor. Analyzing sections 733, subdivision (c) and 782 in accordance with rules of statutory construction, the court found nothing in the language of section 733 indicating that the Legislature intended to override the juvenile court’s discretion to dismiss a petition under section 782. An examination of the legislative history of section 733, subdivision (c) supported this conclusion. Merely because the prosecution filed a 602 petition rather than a 777 notice, the court should not be deprived of its authority under section 782 to dismiss the new 602 petition so as to “reach back” to an earlier petition and commit the minor to DJF if the minor is currently on probation for a DJF-eligible offense.