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In re Luis F.

August 31, 2009

IN RE LUIS F., A PERSON COMING UNDER THE JUVENILE COURT LAW.
THE PEOPLE, PLAINTIFF AND RESPONDENT,
v.
LUIS F., DEFENDANT AND APPELLANT.



(Solano County Super. Ct. No. J38861) Trial Court: Superior Court of Solano County Trial Judge: Hon. Garry T. Ichikawa.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Richman, J.

CERTIFIED FOR PARTIAL PUBLICATION*fn1

INTRODUCTION

Luis F. appeals from a disposition declaring him a ward of the court under Welfare and Institutions Code section 602*fn2 based on his attempted second degree robbery (Pen. Code, §§ 211, 664) of a fellow high school student. After a contested hearing, the juvenile court found Luis had committed the crime and placed him on probation.

Luis claims there was insufficient evidence to support the finding that he had attempted a robbery, claiming instead that it was an attempted theft from the person, followed by a battery. He further claims that one of the conditions of probation―that he continue to take prescribed medications―is unlawful and must be stricken. We modify the judgment by clarifying that Luis must continue to take only those medications prescribed for depression and social anxiety disorder. Otherwise we affirm.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On September 25, 2008, 17-year-old Luis was caught on his high school campus with an ecstasy pill and cited for a misdemeanor violation of Health and Safety Code section 11377, subdivision (a). He was taken to the office, where he was expelled from school.

While unsupervised, he wandered back onto campus and entered a restroom, where he encountered another student, Colin S., whom he had not known previously. He demanded money from Colin, who told him he did not have any money. Luis then told Colin to empty his pockets. Colin complied, pulling out a cell phone and an MP3 player. Luis then demanded that Colin give him the MP3 player, but Colin refused, putting it back into his pocket.

Luis then punched Colin in the face. Colin responded by attempting to tackle Luis. The two boys fought, eventually moving out of the bathroom and onto the campus grounds. Colin took Luis to the ground at some point, and Luis tried to get Colin off of him. The fight continued until it was broken up by teachers and Fairfield Police Officer Larry Banks, the school resource officer. Colin sustained some superficial scratches and swelling as a result of the fight. Luis did not obtain any property from Colin.

Officer Banks escorted the boys to the office and questioned them separately. After Colin told Officer Banks that Luis had tried to rob him, the officer confronted Luis with this accusation. Officer Banks told Luis that Colin said Luis had ―attempted to take property from him by force.‖ After waiving his Miranda rights,*fn3 Luis admitted that he had tried to rob Colin because he needed money to repay some loans. He was taken into custody, and a section 602 petition was filed the next day.*fn4

On October 20, 2008, following a contested jurisdictional hearing, Luis was found to have committed an attempted robbery. At the dispositional hearing on November 10, 2008, Luis was adjudged a ward of the court under section 602. He was placed on probation, but was allowed to remain in his parents' home under the supervision of the probation officer. The terms of probation included, as pertinent to this appeal, that Luis was to ―continue taking prescribed medications, as directed.‖ More specifically, the juvenile court said, ―I want you to continue to follow the directions of your doctors and counselors and this includes the taking of medication as prescribed.‖

The probation department reports noted that Luis had been diagnosed with depression and social anxiety disorder two years prior to the attempted robbery, that he had been in psychological counseling ever since, and that he was taking Prozac and Klonopin for his mental health conditions. Luis met with his doctorson a monthly or bi-monthly basis to review his prescriptions and dosages. Luis's social anxiety disorder had led him to isolate himself, refusing to attend school or go out with his family. He believed he was not accepted by his peers, and that led to depression. Both he and his father expressed the opinion that his mental difficulties contributed to his poor school performance. ―However, Luis believes that his current medication is effective and has allowed him to excel academically.‖

DISCUSSION

I. The Evidence Was Sufficient To Sustain A Finding That Luis Committed Attempted Robbery

Luis contends the evidence was insufficient to support the finding that he committed attempted robbery. He recites the familiar rule that all crimes require a union of act and intent. (Pen. Code, § 20.) Pointing out that he initially requested Colin's money in a ―sort of polite‖ way, without any use of force or fear, Luis claims he did nothing more than lash out at Colin in anger when Colin refused to hand over his MP3 player voluntarily. The fight, he contends, was wholly distinct from the initial request for money, which was an attempt to get Colin's property ―through psychological manipulation or trickery.‖ Since the force or fear element occurred after the request for money and the MP3 player, Luis contends he could not be found to have committed an attempted robbery.

This argument is without merit. We review the sufficiency of the evidence in a juvenile case in the same manner we review an adult conviction, drawing all reasonable inferences in favor of the judgment. The ultimate question is whether any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements true beyond a reasonable doubt. (In re Sylvester C. (2006) 137 Cal.App.4th 601, 605; In re Robert V. (1982) 132 Cal.App.3d 815, 820.)

Although Colin testified that Luis's request that Colin empty his pockets was ―sort of polite‖ and his tone of voice ―calm,‖ he also testified that Luis' request was ―[s]ort of demanding‖ and ―[m]ore of a demand than a question.‖ It may plainly be inferred from the testimony that Luis was intent upon getting either money or the MP3 player from Colin. Indeed, Luis admitted to the police that his intent was to rob Colin. Luis would now have us ignore this admission because he may not have been aware of the ―legal definition‖ of robbery when he made it. It is not necessary for him to have known the technical legal elements of robbery for his admission to constitute substantial evidence of his intent to deprive Colin of his property. The fact that Luis threw the first punch immediately after Colin refused to hand over his property reasonably supports an inference that Luis was willing to take the property by force if necessary.

Luis's citation to People v. Reeves (2001) 91 Cal.App.4th 14, 53, does not support his argument. In that case, a defendant invaded the homes of several women while they were sleeping, sexually assaulted them, then kept them in their shower stalls with threats of violence while he looted their homes. (Id. at pp. 51-52.) The court had no problem affirming those robbery convictions. (Id. at p. 52.) However, in one instance, when defendant awoke the woman (Debra), she screamed, and he brutally beat her. (Id. at pp. 22-23.) Debra's roommate, hearing her screams, called the police. (Id. at p. 23.) As the police arrived, the defendant fled. (Ibid.)

It was later discovered that Reeves had taken with him two items of the roommate's jewelry and had moved Debra's jewelry box from the bathroom to the living room. (Reeves, supra, 91 Cal.App.4th at p. 52.) Since he left the home abruptly, it appeared he had moved the jewelry box and taken the roommate's jewelry before he awakened Debra. (Ibid.) Based on that evidence, the court held the jury should have been given a lesser included offense instruction on theft. (Id. at p. 53.) The court reasoned, ―the evidence suggests [defendant] had the opportunity to leave peacefully with the property he gathered from Debra's apartment, but instead he chose to wake ...


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