Sheila O. v. Superior Court

Decision Date18 November 1981
Citation178 Cal.Rptr. 418,125 Cal.App.3d 812
PartiesSHEILA O., Petitioner, v. SUPERIOR COURT of the State of the State of California For the CITY AND COUNTYOF SAN FRANCISCO, et al., Respondents, The PEOPLE, Real Party in Interest. Civ. 53227.
CourtCalifornia Court of Appeals Court of Appeals

Joseph G. Baxter, Monte Rio, Marshall W. Krause, Krause, Baskin & Shell, Larkspur, for appellant.

George Deukmejian, Atty. Gen. of State of Cal., Jack R. Inkler, Chief Asst. Atty Gen., Edward P. O'Brien, Asst. Atty. Gen., Clifford K. Thompson, Deputy Atty. Gen., San Francisco, for respondents.

Mark Rosenbush, San Francisco, for petitioner.

George Deukmejian, Atty. Gen. of the State of California, Robert H. Philibosian, Chief Asst. Atty. Gen., William D. Stein, Asst. Atty. Gen., Herbert F. Wilkinson, Dane R. Gillette, John B. Moy, Deputy Attys. Gen., for real party in interest.

CHRISTIAN, Associate Justice.

Petitioner Sheila O. seeks a writ to compel respondent juvenile court to permit her to testify at a hearing to determine fitness for treatment as a juvenile without risking use of the testimony in a later determination of guilt.

A petition has been filed in the juvenile court alleging that petitioner comes within the provisions of Welfare and Institutions Code section 602 because she committed robbery (Pen.Code, § 211) and assault with a deadly weapon (Pen.Code, § 245, subd. (a)). The district attorney sought certification that petitioner, who was 16 at the time of the alleged offenses, was unfit for juvenile proceedings. The juvenile court held a hearing for the purpose of determining fitness pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code section 707, subdivision (b).

At that hearing, the district attorney submitted the probation report, which recommended trial in the adult criminal court. The probation report relates that the victim, a 50-year-old woman, was attacked while walking home after getting off a bus. A male and two females approached her. She was struck on the head and knocked to the ground. Her purse was taken and she was shot twice as she lay on the ground. She identified petitioner as the person who shot her. The defense also called no witnesses for, as the defense put it, "Fifth Amendment reasons." In argument, defense counsel stated that the minor would not testify for fear that her testimony could be used against her in a later trial.

The court found that petitioner was not fit to be dealt with under the juvenile court law. Petitioner was then arraigned in municipal court but this court stayed further proceedings pending disposition of the writ petition. We have concluded that a writ should be issued.


A minor 16 years or older charged with specified serious crimes is presumed to be unfit to be dealt with under juvenile court law unless the juvenile court concludes that the minor would be amenable to the care, treatment and training program available through the facilities of the juvenile court. To find the minor fit, the juvenile court is required to make findings that the minor is fit and proper under each of five criteria. (Welf. & Inst. Code, § 707; see People v. Superior Court (Steven S.) (1981) 119 Cal.App.3d 162, 173 Cal.Rptr. 788 (hg. den. 7/8/81).)

The five criteria are as follows:

"(1) The degree of criminal sophistication exhibited by the minor.

"(2) Whether the minor can be rehabilitated prior to the expiration of the juvenile court's jurisdiction.

"(3) The minor's previous delinquent history.

"(4) Success of previous attempts by the juvenile court to rehabilitate the minor.

"(5) The circumstances and gravity of the offenses alleged to have been committed by the minor." (Welf. & Inst. Code, § 707, subd. (c).)

The testimony of the juvenile may be relevant in the application of any of these criteria. As to the juvenile's criminal sophistication, his chances of rehabilitation, his past delinquent history and the success of previous attempts to rehabilitate him, the juvenile may be able to rebut the implications of a bare record by cross-examination of the probation officer and testimony of his own witnesses. Significant evidence may well exist only in the knowledge of the juvenile. As to the circumstances and gravity of the offenses alleged, the juvenile may be the only witness who can present any mitigating circumstances for the court to consider. Yet such testimony risks giving the prosecutor the advantage of an admission which could be used against the juvenile at the trial on the issue of guilt.

Petitioner likens the situation to People v. Coleman (1975) 13 Cal.3d 867, 120 Cal.Rptr. 384, 533 P.2d 1024, where the Supreme Court fashioned an evidentiary rule to solve the dilemma of a defendant wishing to testify at a probation revocation hearing without compromising his privilege against self-incrimination in a later trial.

In Coleman, the defendant contended that a hearing on revocation of probation in advance of trial on criminal charges denied him procedural due process by forcing him to forego his opportunity to testify on his own behalf at the revocation hearing in order to avoid incriminating himself at the pending criminal trial. The Supreme Court found it unnecessary to adjudicate the constitutional claim because it concluded that the choice facing probationers could be eliminated by a judicially declared rule of evidence that upon timely objection the testimony of a probationer at a probation revocation hearing and any evidence derived from such testimony is inadmissible against the probationer during subsequent proceedings on the related criminal charges. An exception was made for impeachment purposes "where the probationer's revocation hearing testimony or evidence derived therefrom and his testimony on direct examination at the criminal...

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18 cases
  • Michael W. v. Superior Court of Orange County
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • October 24, 1983
    ...25, 1983 fitness hearing because real party refused to stipulate to the immunity afforded petitioner by Sheila O. v. Superior Court (1981) 125 Cal.App.3d 812, 178 Cal.Rptr. 418. The juvenile court also refused to assure Sheila O. immunity in light of Proposition 8 and found petitioner not a......
  • People v. Macias
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • August 26, 1997
    ...hearing are not admissible as substantive evidence in subsequent criminal proceedings. 4 In Sheila O. v. Superior Court (1981) 125 Cal.App.3d 812, 817, 178 Cal.Rptr. 418 (Sheila O.), the Court of Appeal determined that "... testimony given by the juvenile at the fitness hearing is inadmissi......
  • People v. Pokovich, S127176.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • August 31, 2006
    ...229 Cal.Rptr. 215 (Stanfill) [prior inconsistent statements to court-appointed competency examiners]; Sheila O. v. Superior Court (1981) 125 Cal.App.3d 812, 816-817, 178 Cal.Rptr. 418 [juvenile's testimony at fitness hearing]; cf. United States v. Havens (1980) 446 U.S. 620, 624-628, S.Ct. ......
  • Resendiz v. Superior Court
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • May 16, 2001 constitutionally permissible. (Hicks, supra, 36 Cal.App.4th at pp. 1657-1661, 43 Cal.Rptr.2d 269; Sheila O. v. Superior Court (1981) 125 Cal.App.3d 812, 817, 178 Cal.Rptr. 418; People v. Superior Court (Steven S.) (1981) 119 Cal.App.3d 162, 177, 173 Cal.Rptr. 788.) Because a juvenile has......
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