In re A.J., 091619 CAAPP1, A155044
|Opinion Judge:||Wick, J.|
|Party Name:||In re A.J., a Person Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law. THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. A.J., Defendant and Appellant.|
|Attorney:||Law Office of Erin W. Keefe and Erin W. Keefe for Defendant and Appellant. Xavier Becerra, Attorney General, Gerald A. Engler, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Jeffrey M. Laurence, Assistant Attorney General, Arthur P. Beever and Christen Somerville, Deputy Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and R...|
|Judge Panel:||WE CONCUR: Fujisaki, Acting P. J., Petrou, J.|
|Case Date:||September 16, 2019|
|Court:||California Court of Appeals|
Superior Court of Contra Costa County Solano County Super. Ct. No. J43873 Trial Judge: Donna L. Stashyn, J
Law Office of Erin W. Keefe and Erin W. Keefe for Defendant and Appellant.
Xavier Becerra, Attorney General, Gerald A. Engler, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Jeffrey M. Laurence, Assistant Attorney General, Arthur P. Beever and Christen Somerville, Deputy Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.
Wick, J. [*]
This is an appeal from an order denying the request by defendant A.J. (minor) for informal supervision under Welfare and Institutions Code section 654.2 in lieu of a declaration of wardship.1 After the juvenile court issued its order, minor admitted the allegation that he committed vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence (Pen. Code, § 192, subd. (c)(2)), was adjudged a ward of the court, placed on probation and ordered to pay restitution in an amount to be determined by the probation department. For reasons set forth below, we affirm.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
On October 24, 2017, a juvenile wardship petition was filed pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code section 602, subdivision (a), alleging that minor committed one count of misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence in violation of Penal Code section 192, subdivision (c)(2) (hereinafter, petition).2
On June 8, 2018, minor filed a motion asking the juvenile court to grant him informal supervision pursuant to section 654 in lieu of adjudging him a ward of the court under section 602. The probation department supported minor's request, noting, among other things, that minor was remorseful, had no prior delinquency history or significant disciplinary record, had been receptive to receiving services throughout these proceedings and, in fact, had taken the initiative to obtain services, and had full familial support. The prosecution, however, opposed minor's request and a contested hearing was held.
At the conclusion of this contested hearing, the juvenile court rejected minor's request for informal supervision, reasoning that he was statutorily ineligible for informal supervision under section 654.3, subdivision (g) because “[r]estitution can clearly be over [$1, 000] in this case” given the likely expense to the victim's family of burial costs and other economic losses. In so reasoning, the juvenile court rejected minor's arguments that, one, no permissible claims for restitution had been made by the victim's family3 and, two, this was an unusual case arising from “a tragic accident” where the interests of justice would best be served by informal supervision notwithstanding the potential restitution issue. (See § 654.3.)
After the juvenile court denied the request for informal supervision, a readiness conference was held at which minor admitted the allegations in the petition. The probation department thereafter recommended minor be granted informal probation pursuant to section 725 without being adjudged a ward of the court. The juvenile court, however, rejected this recommendation, adjudged minor a ward of the court, placed him on formal probation and ordered him to pay restitution in an amount to be determined by the probation department.
After minor timely appealed the juvenile court's order denying him informal supervision, the prosecution moved to dismiss his appeal for mootness. In doing so, the prosecution asserted that, after the challenged ruling was made, minor successfully completed his probationary term and the juvenile court dismissed the petition, terminated his wardship and ordered his juvenile record sealed. As such, the prosecution reasoned, there is no effective relief available to minor on appeal. Minor filed an opposition to this motion based on several grounds, including the lack of evidence in the appellate record that the juvenile court in fact dismissed the petition and sealed his juvenile record.
On May 14, 2019, this court deferred ruling on the prosecution's motion to dismiss until consideration of the appeal on the merits...
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