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Name: Solano Co. v. Superior Court
Case #: G040592
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 01/07/2009

In order to challenge a magistrate’s finding of lack of reasonable cause on a complaint filed in adult court, a prosecutor may seek review of the findings by filing an information before the case is transferred to the juvenile court. The minor was charged by complaint directly in adult court because it was alleged he committed crimes that qualified for direct filing. (Welf. & Inst. Code, § 707, subd. (d)(2) .) But after the preliminary hearing, the minor was not held to answer for any crime for which direct filing was permitted. To challenge the magistrate’s probable cause findings, the prosecutor then filed an information charging the same crimes alleged in the complaint. (See Pen. Code, § 739.) The minor moved to dismiss the information on several grounds, including that the magistrate erred by not immediately transferring the case to the juvenile court. After the motion to dismiss was denied, this writ of mandate/prohibition was filed. Although section 707, subdivision (d)(2) says that “[i]f reasonable cause is not established, the criminal court shall transfer the case to the juvenile court,” subdivision (d)(4) of the statute provides that when the prosecutor directly files a case in criminal court, “the case shall then proceed according to the laws applicable to a criminal case.” In adult court, when the magistrate does not hold the defendant to answer on a charge alleged in the complaint, under Penal Code section 739, the prosecutor may file an information alleging that same charge as long as the evidence supporting the charge is adduced at the preliminary hearing. So, here the prosecutor’s act of filing the information to challenge the magistrate’s finding was proper. Further, immediate transfer to the juvenile court by the magistrate would exceed the statutory powers of magistrates which is to make a probable cause determination at a preliminary hearing. It would be a trial judge who would review a magistrate’s findings and consider whether to transfer the case back to juvenile court.