People ex rel. Kottmeier v. Superior Court

Decision Date09 September 1987
Citation239 Cal.Rptr. 920,194 Cal.App.3d 1536
PartiesPreviously published at 194 Cal.App.3d 1536 194 Cal.App.3d 1536, 194 Cal.App.3d 778 The PEOPLE ex rel Dennis KOTTMEIER, as District Attorney, etc., Petitioner, v. SUPERIOR COURT, San Bernardino County, Respondent, GREG T., a Minor, Real Party in Interest. E004182.
CourtCalifornia Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
Dennis Kottmeier, Dist. Atty., and Joseph A. Burns, Deputy Dist. Atty., for petitioner

No appearance for respondent.

No appearance for real party in interest.

CAMPBELL, Presiding Justice.

The People, through the San Bernardino district attorney, seek review of the trial court's order dismissing as untimely a petition brought under Welfare and Institutions Code section 602. 1 The People argue that the terms of Welfare and Institutions Code section 654 did not require such a ruling. We disagree, and therefore deny issuance of the peremptory writ.


On May 9, 1986, real party Greg Wayne T., hereinafter the minor, participated in an event later alleged as a petty theft.

On June 2, 1986, the People, through a probation officer, and the minor availed themselves of section 654 by signing an "INFORMAL PROBATION AGREEMENT." The agreement stated: "In lieu of filing a Petition in the Juvenile Court and with the consent of the parents or guardians of [the minor] the San Bernardino County Probation Department will undertake a program of supervision not to exceed six months pursuant to section 654 of the Juvenile Court Law." (Emphasis added.) The agreement provided, among other things, that the minor would make restitution, seek counseling, not associate with a certain person, and obey all laws.

On December 12, 1986, that is, six months and ten days after the date the informal probation was signed, the district attorney filed a petition under section 602. The probation officer had submitted to the San Bernardino district attorney a request for the filing of the petition on November 26, 1986.

On January 21, 1987, the minor moved the court to dismiss the 602 petition, arguing that its filing violated the terms of section 654. The prosecutor opposed the motion and argued that section 654 did not establish a six-month limitation against 602 petitions. Hearing on the motion was continued.

On March 4, 1987, the court heard the parties' arguments, and agreed with the minor that section 654 establishes a six-month limitation of the filing of petitions under section 602. The court therefore granted the minor's motion to dismiss the petition with prejudice.

The People thereupon sought review of the dismissal in this court by way of a petition for writ of mandate. We granted the alternative writ, and the matter is now before us for disposition.


The district attorney petitioned for writ of mandate under the assumption that he could not appeal. 2 "If the prosecution The petition in this case alleges a dismissal of a 602 petition based on a misinterpretation of section 654. If the People's contentions are correct, such a dismissal would clearly exceed the trial court's jurisdiction and the need for such review would outweigh any risk of harassment since there would be no danger of "further trial or retrial." Where, as here, there is no appearance of the respondent or real party, the court considering the writ will deem established as correct all factual matters properly set forth in the application. (See Code Civ.Proc., §§ 1088, 1090, 1094; Rodriguez v. Municipal Court (1972) 25 Cal.App.3d 521, 526-527, 102 Cal.Rptr. 45.)

                has not been granted by statute a right to appeal, review of any alleged error may be [194 Cal.App.3d 1540] sought by a petition for writ of mandate only when a trial court has acted in excess of its jurisdiction and the need for such review outweighs the risk of harassment of the accused."  (People v. Superior Court (Stanley) (1979) 24 Cal.3d 622, 625-626, 156 Cal.Rptr. 626, 596 P.2d 691, fn. omitted.)   A trial court exceeds its jurisdiction when it dismisses a case based on a misinterpretation of a statute.  (Cf. People v. Municipal Court (Gelardi) (1978) 84 Cal.App.3d 692, 698-701, 149 Cal.Rptr. 30 [Pen.Code, § 1385 did not authorize continuance of case for six months for a dismissal conditioned upon defendant's good behavior];  see People v. Superior Court (Himmelsbach) (1986) 186 Cal.App.3d 524, 530-533, 230 Cal.Rptr. 890 [reviewing cases defining "excess of jurisdiction" and cases holding excess of jurisdiction did or did not occur].)  Where the trial court has exceeded its jurisdiction, "the need for review outweighs the risk of harassment" where there is no "danger of further trial or retrial."  (People v. Superior Court (Howard) (1968) 69 Cal.2d 491, 501, 72 Cal.Rptr. 330, 446 P.2d 138.)   No danger of "further trial or retrial" exists where a mandamus petition seeks review before trial has occurred.  (Cf.:  People v. Superior Court (James B.) (1981) 122 Cal.App.3d 263, 268, 175 Cal.Rptr. 733 [petition to review order denying People's motion to find minor unfit for treatment under the Juvenile Court Law];  People v. Municipal Court (Gelardi), supra, 84 Cal.App.3d at p. 698, 149 Cal.Rptr. 30 [review of unauthorized dismissal prior to trial].)

Section 654, in paraphrase, provides authority for a program of supervision of a minor in lieu of filing an adjudicatory petition under either sections 601 or 602. 3

The pertinent part of that section provides "a probation officer, after investigation ... in lieu of filing a petition ... under Section 601 or ... Section 602 ..., and with consent of the minor and the minor's parent ..., delineate specific programs of supervision for the minor, for not to exceed six months, and attempt thereby to adjust the situation.... Nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent the probation officer from filing a petition or requesting the prosecuting attorney to file a petition at any time within the six-month period. If the probation officer After argument the trial court took note of the sentence emphasized and ruled as follows:

determines that the minor has not involved himself or herself in the specific programs within 60 days, the probation officer shall immediately file a petition or request that a petition be filed by the prosecuting attorney...." (Emphasis added.)

"That's somewhat ambiguous, but it seems to me, looking at the entire scheme, is that they want you to do that [file a petition] within the six-month time frame. If you have an informal probation, for example, in an adult court on a [Penal Code section 1000], if you don't have the filing within whatever the probationary period is, six months or whatever is selected, seems to me that's jurisdictional." The court therefore held the instant petition untimely.

We agree with the trial court. The section envisions that the informal probation is to be of a strictly limited duration, namely, "for not to exceed six months."

" '[W]hen language which is reasonably susceptible of two constructions is used in a penal law ordinarily that construction which is more favorable to the offender will be adopted....' [Citations.] Furthermore, when interpreting a statute, if its provisions are unclear, its purpose is paramount: we 'should ascertain the intent of the Legislature so as to effectuate the purpose of the law.' [Citations.]" (People v. Davis (1981) 29 Cal.3d 814, 828, 176 Cal.Rptr. 521, 633 P.2d 186.)

The intent of the Legislature is clear. Minors coming within the purview of the section relinquish their rights to a formal adjudication under either Sections 601 or 602. The agreement benefits all parties by providing a flexible, efficient and informal mode of adjusting the minor's disposition and behavior. In giving up such rights, however, the minor agrees to a supervision of definite duration.

If ambiguity existed, we would be constrained to uphold the dismissal, permitting the minor the advantage of reasonable doubt. However, we entertain no such doubt....

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4 cases
  • In re Anthony B.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
    • 19 Diciembre 2002
    ...on a petition filed on March 21 [sic], 2000? (Welf. & Inst.Code, § 654.2, subd. (a); People ex rel. Kottmeier v. Superior Court (1987) 194 Cal.App.3d 1536, 1541-1542 [239 Cal.Rptr. 920 (Kottmeier)]; In re Michael D. (1989) 211 Cal.App.3d 1280, 1283 [260 Cal.Rptr. 30 (Michael Section 654.2, ......
  • People v. Superior Court (Arthur R.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
    • 10 Marzo 1988
    ...applicable constitutional, statutory or case law authority as an act in excess of judicial jurisdiction. (People ex rel. Kottmeier v. Superior Court (1987) 194 Cal.App.3d 1536, 1540, 194 Cal.App.3d 778, 239 Cal.Rptr. 920; People v. Superior Court (Himmelsbach) (1986) 186 Cal.App.3d 524, 530......
  • Michael D., In re
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
    • 28 Junio 1989
    ...a bar to proceeding against the minor on the burglary charge on or after June 1, 1987. DISCUSSION In People ex rel. Kottmeier v. Superior Court (1987) 194 Cal.App.3d 1536, 239 Cal.Rptr. 920, we held that section 654 constitutes a six-month limitation within which the district attorney may f......
  • People v. Laura P. (In re Laura P.), A134867
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
    • 6 Marzo 2013
    ...Legislature has by implication excluded as inappropriate for filing the period beyond that limitation." (People ex rel. Kottmeier v. Superior Court (1987) 194 Cal.App.3d 1536, 1542.) Based on the time limitation imposed by section 654, the section 602 petition filed by the district attorney......

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