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Name: Ruelas v. Superior Court
Case #: H039848
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 6 DCA
Opinion Date: 03/20/2015

Juvenile’s equal protection challenge to his mandatory sex offender registration for a violation of Penal Code section 647.6 fails. In 1994, at age 14, Ruleas admitted committing misdemeanor annoying or molesting a child (Pen. Code, § 647.6) and was adjudged a ward, but he was not committed to the Youth Authority (now the Division of Juvenile Facilities) at this time. Three years later, Ruleas committed three non-sex offenses and the juvenile court committed him to the Youth Authority. The term included 4 months for the section 647.6 offense and this triggered mandatory sex offender registration upon Ruleas’ release under Penal Code section 290.008, which requires registration for juveniles who have been committed to the Division of Juvenile Facilities for specified sex offenses (including section 647.6). Ruelas filed a petition for writ of mandate requesting relief from the registration requirement on equal protection grounds. The trial court denied the petition. Ruelas appealed. Held: Affirmed. The Court of Appeal concluded that Ruelas’ equal protection challenge fails because he did not demonstrate that the statutory scheme treats two similarly situated groups differently. Juveniles who are adjudicated of violating section 647.6 but are never committed to the Division of Juvenile Facilities for that sex offense are not similarly situated to juveniles, like Ruelas, who are committed on a later petition involving non-sex offenses where the juvenile court aggregates the previously sustained section 647.6 petition as part of the commitment. The decision to aggregate is discretionary and necessarily reflects that a juvenile court found that an additional commitment for a prior sex offense was appropriate under the circumstances.