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In Re R.C., A Person Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law. v. R.C

IN THE COURT OF APPEAL OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA THIRD APPELLATE DISTRICT (Yolo)


May 19, 2011

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

(Super. Ct. No. JD09586)

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

In re R.C. CA3

NOT TO BE PUBLISHED California Rules of Court, rule 8.1115(a), prohibits courts and parties from citing or relying on opinions not certified for publication or ordered published, except as specified by rule 8.1115(b). This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

Based on testimony that R.C., a minor, kicked in the door of the apartment where a 13-year-old female friend was staying and both ran into the night, the trial court sustained the allegations of a petition that R.C. came within the juvenile court jurisdiction under Welfare and Institutions Code section 602 because he committed misdemeanor vandalism, contributed to the delinquency of a minor, and violated the local curfew ordinance.

In this appeal, R.C. contends, and the People concede, that the trial court violated Penal Code section 654 (hereafter section 654) when it attributed a separate punishment to him for the offense of contributing to the delinquency of a minor in computing the maximum term of confinement pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code section 726.

We agree that such an action would violate section 654 but, because we cannot determine from this record whether the court actually attributed a separate punishment to the minor for the offense of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, we shall remand for clarification.

BACKGROUND

At the time of these offenses, R.C. had already been adjudicated a ward of the court and ordered to remain in his mother's custody.

At the jurisdictional hearing on the instant petition, Ester B. testified that, when these events occurred, she shared an apartment with her granddaughter, N.T., then 13 years old. Around 10:00 p.m., N.T. was talking on the phone with R.C., and he was "wanting her to come out." Ester B. said no, and N.T. was arguing.

A few minutes later, Ester B. heard "a loud pop," the apartment door flew open, and she saw R.C. outside the apartment. Ester B. saw R.C. crouch and run. Ester B. and her husband tried to keep N.T. in the house, but she broke away and ran after R.C. N.T. did not return to the apartment for a few days.

The doorframe of Ester B.'s apartment was splintered as a result of having been kicked in.

The trial court found the allegations of the petition sustained beyond a reasonable doubt as to all three offenses alleged in the petition: misdemeanor vandalism, violation of curfew, and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Explaining its ruling on the charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, the court said, "[T]he elements of the crime of contributing to the delinquency of a minor[.] [F]irst, there has to be an act or a failure to perform a duty. In this case, there was an act and that was the kicking in of the door. The Court has already found that [R.C.] was responsible for that act beyond a reasonable doubt.

"And the second part of that is that, in doing that act, did that somehow encourage or contribute to [N.T.] to committing a delinquency act, and the Court finds that it did, because, once the door was kicked open, it enabled, or, at least, encouraged [N.T.] to run out the door, and then she was a runaway and she was missing."

Thereafter, the court held a consolidated dispositional hearing on the then-existing sustained petitions (including the instant case), combined with a jurisdictional hearing on a new petition, Yolo Superior Court case No. JD10-227. It sustained allegations in case No. JD10-227 that R.C. committed misdemeanor resisting arrest and another curfew violation, and continued R.C. as a ward of the court in the custody of his mother and under the supervision of the probation department.

Immediately after sustaining the jurisdictional allegations, the court asked the deputy district attorney: "Maximum confinement time, Ms. Mandalla?

"Ms. Mandalla: Three years.

"The Court: Two years?

"Ms. Mandalla: Three years.

"The Court: Three years."

DISCUSSION

The parties agree that separately punishing R.C. for both the vandalism and the offense of contributing to the delinquency of a minor offense would violate section 654.

We concur. Section 654 provides in pertinent part, "An act or omission that is punishable in different ways by different provisions of law shall be punished under the provision that provides for the longest potential term of imprisonment, but in no case shall the act or omission be punished under more than one provision." The section precludes imposition of multiple punishments for conduct that violates more than one criminal statute but which constitutes an indivisible course of conduct. (People v. Perez (1979) 23 Cal.3d 545, 551-552.) Section 654 serves to match a defendant's culpability with punishment. (Id. at p. 551.)

Section 654's prohibition applies to aggregated terms imposed in juvenile delinquency cases calculated under Welfare and Institutions Code section 726, subdivision (c), because that section incorporates Penal Code section 1170.1, subdivision (a), which in turn expressly refers to section 654. (In re Asean D. (1993) 14 Cal.App.4th 467, 474; In re Billy M. (1983) 139 Cal.App.3d 973, 978.)

Whether the provision "applies in a given case is a question of fact for the trial court, which is vested with broad latitude in making its determination. [Citations.] Its findings will not be reversed on appeal if there is any substantial evidence to support them. [Citations.] We review the trial court's determination in the light most favorable to the respondent and presume the existence of every fact the trial court could reasonably deduce from the evidence. [Citation.]" (People v. Jones (2002) 103 Cal.App.4th 1139, 1143.)

We agree that R.C. should not be separately punished for kicking in the door and enabling N.T. to run through it. The court found that R.C.'s intent in kicking in the door was to encourage N.T. to run out the door, and found that act as the basis for both the vandalism and contributing to the delinquency of a minor offense. Nothing in the evidence suggests R.C. had any intent for kicking the door open other than to allow N.T. to leave the house and her grandparents' control.

But we cannot discern from the record on appeal whether the trial court in fact did punish R.C. separately for the offense of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. While the parties both assert that the trial court improperly assigned R.C. a four-month term in this case for this offense, neither provides any citation to the record to establish that fact. R.C. cites to pages 406 and 424 of the augmented clerk's transcript and to page 160 of the augmented reporter's transcript, but these pages state only the court's conclusion that the total maximum aggregate term is three years; it does not state what period (if any) the court imposed for each of the three offenses alleged in this case.*fn1 And, specifically, the referenced pages do not indicate what, if any, term the trial court assigned to R.C.'s contributing to the delinquency of a minor offense. Nor has our review of the appellate record disclosed the source of the parties' understanding that the court imposed a four-month term for that offense.

Under the circumstances, we shall remand the matter back to the trial court to clarify what (if any) term of confinement was imposed on the offense of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. If the court did impose a separate term for that offense, it shall be struck as violative of section 654.

DISPOSITION

The matter is remanded to the trial court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

We concur: RAYE , P. J. HOCH , J.


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