Alfredo A. v. Superior Court

Decision Date24 January 1994
Docket NumberNo. S024618,S024618
Citation6 Cal.4th 1212,26 Cal.Rptr.2d 623,865 P.2d 56
CourtCalifornia Supreme Court
Parties, 865 P.2d 56 ALFREDO A., a Minor, etc., Petitioner, v. The SUPERIOR COURT of Los Angeles County, Respondent; The PEOPLE, Real Party in Interest.

Wilbur F. Littlefield, Public Defender, Laurence M. Sarnoff, Sue Robin Pollock and John Hamilton Scott, Deputy Public Defenders, for petitioner.

De Witt W. Clinton, County Counsel, and Frederick R. Bennett, Asst. County Counsel, for respondent.

Grover C. Trask II, Dist. Atty. (Riverside), and Gary B. Tranbarger, Deputy Dist. Atty., as amici curiae, on behalf of respondent.

Daniel E. Lungren, Atty. Gen., and Shirley A. Nelson, Deputy Atty. Gen., for real party in interest.


LUCAS, Chief Justice.

In Gerstein v. Pugh (1975) 420 U.S. 103, 95 S.Ct. 854, 43 L.Ed.2d 54 (hereafter Gerstein ), the United States Supreme Court held that the Fourth Amendment requires a prompt judicial determination of "probable cause to believe the suspect has committed a crime" as a prerequisite to an extended pretrial detention following a warrantless arrest. (Id., at pp. 114, 120, 95 S.Ct. at pp. 863, 866.) The court stopped short of mandating a specific timetable for making a "prompt" determination of probable cause.

In County of Riverside v. McLaughlin (1991) 500 U.S. 44, ---, 111 S.Ct. 1661, 1664, 114 L.Ed.2d 49 (hereafter McLaughlin ), the high court sought to further define the "promptness" requirement for making the probable cause determination mandated in Gerstein. The court held that, "Taking into account the competing interests articulated in Gerstein, we believe that a jurisdiction that provides judicial determinations of probable cause within 48 hours of arrest will, as a general matter, comply with the promptness requirement of Gerstein." (McLaughlin, supra, 500 U.S. at p. ---, 111 S.Ct. at p. 1670.)

Neither Gerstein nor McLaughlin was a juvenile detention case. In contrast, the United States Supreme Court's decision in Schall v. Martin (1984) 467 U.S. 253, 104 S.Ct. 2403, 81 L.Ed.2d 207 (hereafter Schall ) did directly address the constitutional parameters of a key provision of New York State's juvenile pretrial detention statute. Schall was decided nine years after Gerstein but seven years prior to McLaughlin. Schall, and other decisions of the high court, make it abundantly clear that Fourth Amendment and related due process claims pertaining to the pretrial detention of juveniles following warrantless arrests for criminal activity cannot be viewed in the same light as similar challenges to adult detentions. This is so because, in the words of the Supreme Court, juvenile proceedings are "fundamentally different" from adult criminal proceedings, requiring that a "balance" be struck between the "informality" and "flexibility" that must of necessity inhere in juvenile proceedings, and the further requirement that those proceedings comport with the juvenile's constitutional rights, and the " 'fundamental fairness' demanded by the Due Process Clause." (Schall, supra, 467 U.S. at p. 263, 104 S.Ct. at p. 2409.)

In July of 1991, the Los Angeles County Juvenile Court, after consultation with county counsel, adopted the "official position" that McLaughlin's strict 48-hour rule does not apply in juvenile detention proceedings. We granted review in this case to determine whether that position passes constitutional muster, or whether McLaughlin's 48-hour rule strictly applies to the pretrial detention of adults and juveniles alike following warrantless arrest for criminal activity. 1

It is beyond dispute that Gerstein's constitutional requirement of a prompt judicial determination of probable cause for the extended pretrial detention of any person arrested without a warrant applies to juveniles as well as adults. However, for reasons to be explained, and having considered the comprehensive analysis the court invoked in Schall to scrutinize the constitutionality of the juvenile detention provisions there at issue, we have concluded that the high court did not intend that the strict 48-hour rule subsequently announced in McLaughlin--a ruling handed down in a case involving the pretrial detention of adults--should automatically apply in the juvenile detention setting. To conclude otherwise we would have to ignore the fundamental differences between adult and juvenile proceedings recognized in all of the high court's cases that have specifically addressed juvenile detention issues.

As will be explained, California's juvenile detention statutes basically afford juvenile detainees who have been arrested without a warrant a formal, adversarial "detention hearing" within 72 hours of a warrantless arrest, which proceeding incorporates the "probable cause" determination mandated under Gerstein, supra, 420 U.S. 103, 95 S.Ct. 854. The relevant statutes also prescribe various other procedures designed to ensure that an arrested juvenile will be released, in accordance with well-established and codified policies, at the earliest possible time following arrest, preferably to the custody of a parent or legal guardian. Given the fundamental difference in purpose and procedure between the treatment of adult and juvenile detainees, we have further concluded that juvenile detainees are constitutionally entitled to a judicial "probable cause" determination within 72 hours of arrest, consistent with the integrated provisions of our juvenile detention statutory scheme.


On July 24, 1991, petitioner Alfredo A., a minor, was taken into custody without a warrant pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code sections 602 [6 Cal.4th 1217] and 625 2 on suspicion of having possessed cocaine base for sale on that date. (Health & Saf.Code, § 11351.5.)

On July 25, 1991, petitioner sought his immediate release by filing a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District. He based his challenge to his postarrest detention on the holding in McLaughlin, supra, 500 U.S. 44, 111 S.Ct. 1661, alleging that he was a juvenile who had been arrested without a warrant the previous day for commission of a criminal offense, and that: "Pursuant to the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, petitioner is entitled to a judicial determination of probable cause for his continued detention within 48 hours of his arrest. No such judicial determination has been made, and no determination will be made within the 48-hour period. This is because the Los Angeles County Superior Court, Juvenile Court, has adopted as its 'official position' that a juvenile is not entitled to such a prompt probable cause determination."

Several weeks prior to petitioner's arrest, the Presiding Judge of the Los Angeles County Juvenile Court sent a memorandum to all juvenile court judges, commissioners, and referees, indicating that county counsel had furnished the juvenile court with an opinion concluding that McLaughlin's 48-hour rule does not apply in juvenile court proceedings. County counsel based that determination on the reasoning of Schall, supra, 467 U.S. 253, 104 S.Ct. 2403, in which a New York juvenile "preventive detention" statute was found facially valid under the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The presiding judge and supervising judges thereafter unanimously agreed to adopt county counsel's position as the Los Angeles County Juvenile Court's "official position."

By an order to show cause filed the following day, the Court of Appeal determined to treat the petition for a writ of habeas corpus as a petition for a writ of mandate, and directed respondent Los Angeles County Superior Court to show cause why a peremptory writ of mandate should not issue ordering that judicial probable cause determinations for the extended postarrest detention of juveniles be made within 48 hours of their arrest.

On that same day, July 26, 1991, a wardship petition was filed in the juvenile court alleging petitioner came within the provisions of section 602 by having violated Health and Safety Code sections 11351 and 11351.5 on July 24, 1991. However, when petitioner appeared in court on the next "judicial day" (July 29, 1991), no detention report was provided to the juvenile court in preparation for the detention hearing, and petitioner was ordered immediately released. He thereafter waived the statutory time limitations for arraignment.

In the mandamus proceeding, petitioner acknowledged that his release after spending five days in custody rendered the petition moot as to him. The Court of Appeal nonetheless determined to hear and decide petitioner's systemic challenge to the juvenile court's "official position," concluding that similar claims had proved "capable of repetition, yet evading review" because "review usually takes longer than the [challenged] temporary detention...." (See Schall, supra, 467 U.S. at p. 256, fn. 3, 104 S.Ct. at p. 2405, fn. 3; Gerstein, supra, 420 U.S. at pp. 110-111, fn. 11, 95 S.Ct. at p. 861, fn. 11.)

In its opinion, the Court of Appeal reviewed the relevant provisions of the Welfare and Institutions Code governing pretrial detention of juvenile arrestees. After determining that the juvenile detention issue in this case must be evaluated in light of the constitutional analysis conducted in Schall, supra, 467 U.S. 253, 104 S.Ct. 2403, the court concluded that California's statutory postarrest juvenile detention scheme withstands constitutional scrutiny, reasoning that: "[The] statutes provide procedural safeguards that accommodate the individual's right to liberty and the state's duty to control crime. They reflect the balance that must be struck between the informality and flexibility of juvenile proceedings even as they comport with the fundamental fairness required by due process. The statutory scheme protects a minor's right to...

To continue reading

Request your trial
54 cases
  • In re Doe
    • United States
    • Hawaii Supreme Court
    • 11 July 2003
    ... ... Nos. 24042, 24036 ... Supreme Court of Hawai`i ... July 11, 2003 ... As Corrected July 11, 2003 ...          73 P.3d ... 528, 543, 91 S.Ct. 1976, 29 L.Ed.2d 647 (1971) ) ...         In Alfredo A. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles County, 6 Cal.4th 1212, 26 Cal. Rptr.2d 623, 865 P.2d 56 ... ...
  • Y.C. v. Superior Court
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
    • 8 November 2021
    ... ... 3d 186.) Courts may review the legality of pretrial detention on this theory because " "[p]retrial detention is by nature temporary, and it is most unlikely that any given individual could have his constitutional claim decided on appeal before he is either released or convicted." " ( Alfredo A. v. Superior Court (1994) 6 Cal.4th 1212, 1219, 26 Cal.Rptr.2d 623, 865 P.2d 56.) But in this case we are skeptical that the moot issues regarding Y.C.s pretrial 72 Cal.App.5th 252 detention are likely to recur because of recent changes to state law and to the policy of the San Mateo County ... ...
  • People v. Greg F. (In re Greg F.)
    • United States
    • California Supreme Court
    • 27 August 2012
    ... ... 9786 2012 Daily Journal D.A.R. 11,873 In re GREG F., a Person Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law. The People, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. Greg F., Defendant and Appellant. No. S191868 ... In reaching that conclusion, the appellate court agreed with V.C. v. Superior Court (2009) 173 Cal.App.4th 1455, 93 Cal.Rptr.3d 851( V.C. ) and rejected the contrary reasoning ... ( Alfredo A. v. Superior Court (1994) 6 Cal.4th 1212, 1215, 26 Cal.Rptr.2d 623, 865 P.2d 56.) One important ... ...
  • In re Stier
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
    • 15 June 2007
    ... ... 152 Cal.App.4th 63 ... In re David Mark STIER on Habeas Corpus ... No. A112248 ... Court of Appeal, First District, Division 1 ... June 15, 2007 ... As Modified July 12, 2007 ... Superior Court (1976) 17 Cal.3d 107, 122, 130 Cal.Rptr. 257, 550 P.2d 161; People ex rel. Lockyer v ... (See Alfredo A v. Superior Court (1994) 6 Cal.4th 1212, 1217, 26 Cal.Rptr.2d 623, 865 P.2d 56; Gray v ... ...
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT