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Name: In re R.E.
Case #: C097682
Opinion Date: 08/25/2023
Attorney: Stephanie  L. Gunther

Following a contested jurisdictional hearing, the juvenile court found the minor R.E. committed three criminal offenses, two of which were based on a finding that he drove a stolen minivan while fleeing from police. That fleeing minivan ultimately crashed into the side of a house, and the only witness saw three people flee from the scene of the crash. More than 30 minutes later, after searching a nearby neighborhood, police found and arrested only two people: R.E., and a second juvenile, J.L. J.L’s injuries indicated he had been riding in one of the passenger seats, but no evidence indicated whether R.E. or the third person had been driving. In an attempt to get around this evidentiary obstacle, the petitioner argued, and the juvenile court found, that only two people had been in the minivan, making the minor the only possible driver. The Court of Appeal concluded no substantial evidence supported the juvenile court’s inference that only two people were in the minivan, which means no substantial evidence supports the juvenile court’s finding that R.E. committed the two challenged offenses. Accordingly, the court reversed the juvenile court’s judgment that R.E. fled from a peace officer while driving a vehicle with willful or wanton disregard for safety (Veh. Code, § 2800.2) and withheld or concealed a stolen vehicle (Pen. Code, § 496d).