People v. K.W. (In re K.W.)

Citation268 Cal.Rptr.3d 615,54 Cal.App.5th 467
Decision Date09 September 2020
Docket NumberE073894
CourtCalifornia Court of Appeals
Parties IN RE K.W., a Person Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law. The People, Plaintiff and Appellant, v. K.W., Defendant and Respondent.

54 Cal.App.5th 467
268 Cal.Rptr.3d 615

IN RE K.W., a Person Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law.

The People, Plaintiff and Appellant,
K.W., Defendant and Respondent.


Court of Appeal, Fourth District, Division 2, California.

Filed September 9, 2020

Jason Anderson, District Attorney, and Brent J. Schultze, Deputy District Attorney, for Plaintiff and Appellant.

Rex Adam Williams, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Defendant and Respondent.



54 Cal.App.5th 470

Pursuant to a plea bargain, minor K.W. admitted one count of robbery; counts alleging kidnapping, brandishing, and vandalism were dismissed. After he completed probation, he moved to seal the record under section 786.1 He was not eligible for sealing, because robbery is one of the crimes listed in section 707, subdivision (b) (section 707(b) offense). The trial court, however, reduced the adjudication to the lesser included offense of grand theft, which is not a section 707(b) offense; it then granted the motion to seal. As support for its authority to reduce the adjudication, it cited section 775, which allows it to modify its previous orders; it also cited section 786 itself.

The People appeal. They contend that:

1. The juvenile court lacked the authority to reduce the adjudication.
54 Cal.App.5th 471
2. Reducing the adjudication violated the plea bargain.

We will hold that the statutes the juvenile court cited — sections 775 and 786 — did not give it any authority to reduce the conviction. We will also hold that section 782, which allows the juvenile court to "set aside the findings and dismiss the petition" in the interest of justice, does not authorize the juvenile court to reduce an adjudication, at least when doing so would violate a plea bargain, as it would here.



In June 2017, the People filed a delinquency petition which, as subsequently amended, alleged:

Count 1: Simple kidnapping. ( Pen. Code, § 207, subd. (a).)

Count 2: Second degree robbery. ( Pen. Code, § 211.)

Count 3: Brandishing a deadly weapon. ( Pen. Code, § 417, subd. (a)(1).)

Count 4: Felony vandalism. ( Pen. Code, § 594, subd. (b)(1).)

Pursuant to a plea bargain, the minor admitted the second degree robbery count; the other counts were dismissed.2 The plea bargain did not specify any particular disposition.

At a further hearing, the minor was declared a ward, placed in the custody of

268 Cal.Rptr.3d 618

the probation officer, and committed to the Gateway Program.3 Eighteen months later, he completed the program and started "aftercare supervision."

At that point, the minor moved to seal the case under section 786.4 The People filed an opposition to the motion, arguing, among other things, that

54 Cal.App.5th 472

section 786, subdivision (d) (section 786(d)), by its terms, prohibited the court from sealing an adjudication for robbery committed when the minor was 14 or older.

The minor then filed a motion to reduce or dismiss the robbery adjudication, citing section 775 and section 782. The People filed an opposition to the motion. While the motion was pending, the trial court found that the minor had satisfactorily completed probation and dismissed the petition.

After hearing argument, the trial court reduced the adjudication to grand theft from the person (§ 487, subd. (c)), citing section 775 and section 786(d); it then granted the motion to seal.

The People filed a timely notice of appeal.



In a juvenile delinquency matter, the People may appeal from "[a]n order modifying the jurisdictional finding by ... modifying the offense to a lesser offense." (§ 800, subd. (b)(3).)

The People have no right to appeal from an order sealing a minor's juvenile court records. ( People v. Superior Court (2002) 104 Cal.App.4th 915, 922-924, 128 Cal.Rptr.2d 794.) Here, however, if we reverse the order reducing the adjudication, that will effectively also reverse the sealing order. "Our unqualified reversal automatically remands the matter for renewed proceedings and places the parties in the same position as if the matter had never been heard. [Citation.]" ( Barron v. Superior Court (2009) 173 Cal.App.4th 293, 300, 92 Cal.Rptr.3d 394 ; see also Code Civ. Proc., § 908 ["When the judgment or order is reversed ..., the reviewing court may direct that the parties be returned so far as possible to the positions they occupied before the enforcement of ... the judgment or order."].) Even assuming we lack jurisdiction to reverse the sealing order ourselves, the trial court would be required to vacate it on remand. (See Allen v. Smith (2002) 94 Cal.App.4th 1270, 1284, 114 Cal.Rptr.2d 898.)



As mentioned, the People contend that the trial court erred by reducing the robbery adjudication, purportedly on the authority of section 775.

54 Cal.App.5th 473

In the lower court, there was a discussion of the interplay of all the various statutes. The People did not articulate precisely this contention, in so many words. The juvenile court, however, recognized that the issue was presented for decision: "[Y]ou are suggesting that 775 does not authorize the changing of a true

268 Cal.Rptr.3d 619

finding of a charge." That was sufficient to preserve it for appeal. In any event, "we may consider new arguments that present pure questions of law on undisputed facts. [Citations.]" ( People v. Runyan (2012) 54 Cal.4th 849, 859, fn. 3, 143 Cal.Rptr.3d 674, 279 P.3d 1143.) This would be such an argument.

Section 775, in its entirety, provides: "Any order made by the court in the case of any person subject to its jurisdiction may at any time be changed, modified, or set aside, as the judge deems meet and proper, subject to such procedural requirements as are imposed by this article."

Section 775 traces back to at least 1915. (Stats. 1915, ch. 631, § 9, pp. 1232-1233.) In 1961, when it was enacted in its present form (Stats. 1961, ch. 1616, § 2, p. 3491), it was part of a single set of statutes that governed both delinquency and dependency proceedings. (See id. at p. 3471.) In 1976, the Juvenile Court Law was split into separate dependency (§ 300 et seq.) and delinquency provisions (§ 601 et seq.). Section 775 continued to apply to delinquency proceedings; section 385 was newly enacted to apply to dependency proceedings. (Stats. 1976, ch. 1068, § 12, p. 4779.) The wording of the two pairs of statutes, however, was word-for-word identical. Accordingly, authorities construing section 385 are persuasive in construing section 775.

Under section 775, "the juvenile court may modify an order that contains a clerical error, [and] may also reconsider the substance of a previous order the court considers to have been erroneously, inadvertently or improvidently granted. [Citations.]" ( Nickolas F. v. Superior Court (2016) 144 Cal.App.4th 92, 116, 50 Cal.Rptr.3d 208 [construing section 385] ; accord, In re G.B. (2014) 227 Cal.App.4th 1147, 1160, 174 Cal.Rptr.3d 405 [construing section 385].) Despite its apparent breadth, section 775 "does not authorize the court to make substantive changes or modifications that otherwise exceed the court's jurisdiction." ( In re Luke H. (2013) 221 Cal.App.4th 1082, 1089, 165 Cal.Rptr.3d 63 [construing section 385].)

The minor asserts that section 775 does not require a showing of good cause. We disagree. Its requirement that the...

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