In re Eddie M.

Citation73 P.3d 1115,31 Cal.4th 480,3 Cal.Rptr.3d 119
Decision Date07 August 2003
Docket NumberNo. S109902.,S109902.
CourtCalifornia Supreme Court
PartiesIn re EDDIE M., a Person Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law. The People, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. Eddie M., Defendant and Appellant.

Allen G. Weinberg, Santa Monica, under appointment by the Supreme Court, for Defendant and Appellant.

Bill Lockyer, Attorney General, Manuel M. Medeiros, State Solicitor General, Robert R. Anderson, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Pamela C. Hamanaka,

Assistant Attorney General, Carl N. Henry, Juliet H. Swoboda, Michael C. Keller, Jamie L. Fuster, Donald E. De Nicola and Corey J. Robins, Deputy Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.


At the March 7, 2000, Primary Election, California voters approved Proposition 21, the Gang Violence and Juvenile Crime Prevention Act of 1998 (Proposition 21). Proposition 21 operated, among other things, to amend juvenile court procedures, including Welfare and Institutions Code section 777.1 As configured since 1986, section 777 allowed a more restrictive disposition for a person who, while already on juvenile probation for a criminal offense adjudicated under section 602, violated that probation by committing new misconduct.

As pertinent here, Proposition 21 revised section 777 in two respects. First, before Proposition 21, the prosecutor could "allege[ ] a violation of a condition of probation amounting to a crime," and either the probation officer or the prosecutor could "allege [ ] a violation of a condition of probation not amounting to a crime." (§ 777, former subd. (a)(2), as amended by Stats.1986, ch. 757, § 5, p. 2478 (former section 777(a)(2)), italics added.) Proposition 21 deleted the initial nonitalicized phrase from section 777, subdivision (a)(2) (section 777(a)(2)).

Second, before Proposition 21, the reasonable doubt standard governed all section 777(a)(2) proceedings, whether or not a crime was charged therein. (See In re Arthur N. (1976) 16 Cal.3d 226, 240, 127 Cal.Rptr. 641, 545 P.2d 1345 {Arthur N.); Cal. Rules of Court, former rule 1392(d)(1), adopted eff. July 1, 1977, relettered subd. (e)(1) eff. Jan. 1, 1987, and repealed eff. July 1, 1989.)2 The current statute, which only covers probation violations "not amounting to ... crime[s]" (§ 777(a)(2), italics added), allows proof "by a preponderance of the evidence" {id., subd. (c)).

Here, the new version of section 777 was used to place Eddie M. (petitioner), then on juvenile probation for a prior criminal adjudication, in a more restrictive setting. The section 777 motion claimed, and the juvenile court found, several probation violations. No breach of any penal law was averred or sustained in the section 777 proceeding. No request or ruling was made to confine petitioner beyond the maximum term for his prior section 602 offense (see §§ 726, 731).

Relying on In re Marcus A (2001) 91 Cal.App.4th 423, 109 Cal.Rptr.2d 919{Marcus A.), petitioner contends that the "not amounting to a crime" language in current section 777(a)(2) limits that section to probation violations objectively lacking the elements of crimes. He claims that to the extent his probation violations could be charged as crimes, Proposition 21 bars section 777's use, and relegates modification of his dispositional status to either a new section 602 proceeding or an adult criminal prosecution—each requiring proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Petitioner also contends the preponderance standard of proof authorized by section 777, subdivision (c) (section 777(c)) offends federal due process guarantees.

The Court of Appeal correctly rejected petitioner's approach. In our view, the statute's language and long history make clear that an "allege[d]" probation violation "not amounting to a crime" covers any act alleged only as a probation violation. (§ 777(a)(2).) By limiting the statute to probation violations not amounting to crimes, Proposition 21 simply ended prosecutorial use of section 777(a)(2) to seek new criminal adjudications against criminal juvenile probationers. Proposition 21 also relaxed certain procedures attending this prior practice. The new streamlined statute follows adult probation revocation procedures (see Pen.Code, § 1203.2) by preserving executive discretion to seek a dispositional change for a criminal juvenile probationer who violates probation, regardless of the actual criminal nature of the violation alleged, without proving any crime beyond a reasonable doubt, so long as any resulting physical confinement does not exceed the maximum term of adult confinement tied to the original offense. The juvenile court also retains authority under section 777 to enforce its orders, including orders barring new crimes, against criminal probationers. Moreover, because both juvenile and adult probation violation proceedings differ from criminal prosecutions in purpose, operation, and effect, juvenile probation violations, like their adult counterparts, can constitutionally be proven under section 777(c) by a preponderance standard insufficient for conviction of a charged crime. Hence, we affirm the Court of Appeal's judgment.


Section 602 extends juvenile court jurisdiction to persons who are under 18 years of age when they violate any law "defining crime." (Id., subd. (a); cf. § 601 [incorrigible youths].) A person found to satisfy section 602 comes under the dispositional jurisdiction of the court. (Id., subd. (a).) Such jurisdiction often ends when the ward attains age 21, but a higher age limit sometimes applies. (§ 607.)3

Probation officials investigate and refer juvenile criminal offenders to the prosecuting attorney. (E.g., §§ 652, 653.5.) No section 602 case begins until the prosecutor files a petition under that statute on the People's behalf. (§§ 650, subd. (c), 681, subd. (a).) The petition states which penal laws were violated and whether the offenses are felonies or misdemeanors. (§§ 656, subd. (f), 656.1.)

The hearing is "bifurcated." (In re Gladys R. (1970) 1 Cal.3d 855, 859, 83 Cal.Rptr. 671, 464 P.2d 127.) At the jurisdictional phase, the juvenile court decides whether the petition concerns a person described in section 602. The Evidence Code applies. (§ 701.) Under section 701, the petition cannot be sustained absent "[p]roof beyond a reasonable doubt supported by evidence [ ] legally admissible in the trial of criminal cases." The court must declare whether the offense is a felony or misdemeanor. (§ 702; In re Manzy W. (1997) 14 Cal.4th 1199, 1203-1204, 60 Cal.Rptr.2d 889, 930 P.2d 1255.)

Section 701's high standard of proof at the jurisdictional phase was added in response to In re Winship (1970) 397 U.S. 358, 90 S.Ct. 1068, 25 L.Ed.2d 368 (Winship ). (In re Manuel L. (1994) 7 Cal.4th 229, 235, 27 Cal.Rptr.2d 2, 865 P.2d 718, citing Stats.1971, ch. 934, § 1, p. 1833.) The high court held that federal due process requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt when juveniles are charged with crimes. (Winship, supra, 397 U.S. at p. 368,90 S.Ct. 1068.) This rule applies at the jurisdictional stage of a criminal delinquency proceeding. (Ibid.)

Less exacting rules govern disposition. No statute expressly subjects this phase to the Evidence Code. In addition to other relevant evidence (e.g., §§ 656.2, subd. (a), 725.5), the court must consider the probation officer's report. (§ 706; In re Gladys R., supra, 1 Cal.3d 855, 859, 83 Cal.Rptr. 671, 464 P.2d 127; see In re Romeo C. (1995) 33 Cal.App.4th 1838, 1843-1845, 40 Cal.Rptr.2d 85 [holding § 706 implicitly incorporates Evid.Code, § 352].)

One outcome in section 602 cases is probation, which involves various forms of community release. (In re Kazuo G. (1994) 22 Cal.App.4th 1, 8, 27 Cal.Rptr.2d 155.) Like other juvenile sanctions, probation guides reform, promotes accountability, and protects the public. (§ 202, subds.(b) & (e)(3).) Some conditions are dictated by statute. (E.g., §§ 729-729.3.) Others are discretionary. (See § 730, subd. (b).)

Persons placed on juvenile probation for a criminal offense adjudicated under section 602 may, or may not, also be made wards of the court. A wardship declaration is required if a section 602 criminal probationer is removed from the physical custody of a parent or guardian. (See §§ 725, 726, 727, 730.)

For section 602 wards, an "additional alternative" to probation is commitment to a county home, ranch, or camp. (§ 730, subd. (a).) The most restrictive placement is the California Youth Authority (CYA). (See §§ 731, 734.)

The court must find that CYA would likely benefit the ward (§ 734), and that it otherwise serves the statutory aims. (In re Ricky H. (1981) 30 Cal.3d 176, 184, 178 Cal.Rptr. 324, 636 P.2d 13 (Ricky H.).) Nothing bars CYA for section 602 wards who have received no other placement. (Id. at p. 183, 178 Cal.Rptr. 324, 636 P.2d 13; see In re John H. (1978) 21 Cal.3d 18, 27, 145 Cal.Rptr. 357, 577 P.2d 177.)

However, any order removing a section 602 ward from the custody of a parent or guardian must state, among other things, that "physical confinement" cannot exceed "the maximum term of imprisonment which could be imposed upon an adult convicted of the [same] offense or offenses." (§ 726, subd. (c), 1st par.; see § 731, 2d par.) This rule took effect January 1, 1977. (Stats.1976, ch. 1071, § 29, p. 4827; see id., § 30, p. 4829.) It seeks to prevent any unconstitutional disparity between the maximum confinements of juveniles and adults for both a first offense (see People v. Olivas (1976) 17 Cal.3d 236, 242-243, 257, 131 Cal.Rptr. 55, 551 P.2d 375) and any subsequent offense (see Arthur N., supra, 16 Cal.3d 226, 238-239, 127 Cal.Rptr. 641, 545 P.2d 1345).

In late 1977, a ward's "maximum" confinement on a single count was defined as the upper term prescribed under the Determinate Sentencing Act (DSA) (see Pen. Code, § 1170), plus enhancements. (§ 726, subd. (c), 2d par., added by Stats.1977, ch. 1238, § 1, p. 4158, eff. Oct. 1,...

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