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In Re T. H., A Person Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law. v. T. H

November 26, 2012


(Super. Ct. No. 133222)

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

In re T.H. CA3


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 This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

Following a contested jurisdictional hearing, the Sacramento County Juvenile Court sustained charges against T.H. (the minor) of assault with a deadly weapon (Pen. Code, § 245, subd. (a)(1))*fn1 and making criminal threats (§ 422).*fn2 The victim in each charge was his mother (the mother). The minor was adjudged a ward of the court and committed to home care under the supervision of the probation officer.

On appeal, the minor contends the order sustaining the criminal threats charge must be reversed because the evidence is insufficient to show that the victim's fear was "sustained" and "reasonable" as required by section 422. We conclude the mother's fear was reasonable but that it was not "sustained fear" within the meaning of section 422.


The minor's mother, who was the victim of both charges, was at home with her five children, one of whom was the 15-year-old minor. About 10:00 a.m., the minor, who had been restricted to his bedroom by his mother, came out and sat on the couch. Several times his mother told him to return to the bedroom, but he would not do so. Instead, he went into the kitchen. The mother continued to tell the minor to return to his room; still he refused and became "very belligerent" as the two argued.

The mother's 22-year-old son, Allen, intervened and tried to calm the minor down. Allen and the minor got into a physical altercation, resulting in Allen's restraining him. When the minor got free, he called Allen and his mother names, ran outside, picked up sticks and rocks, and tried to break the windows. The mother called the police. While awaiting the police, the mother went outside at least twice in an effort to keep the minor from breaking the windows. She went back into the house, and the minor went across the street and sat on a fence.

When the police arrived, they spoke to the minor and convinced him to return to his bedroom. As soon as the officers went back to their vehicle, the minor again came out of his bedroom and refused his mother's order that he return. The minor went into the kitchen, and he and his mother continued to argue. The minor refused to return to his bedroom and the argument continued. At one point, the mother said to the minor: "I'm going to tell you something, I can whoop [sic] you without leaving any marks on you." The minor refused to go to his room, and the mother got "in his face" and repeated that there was "a way for [her] to whoop [the minor] without showing a mark."

At that point, the minor grabbed a knife from the dishwasher, held it over his head, and said, "Bitch, if you touch me, I'll kill you." Now "scared," the mother, who could see the police car still outside of the residence, ran to the police car without ever looking back. She told the officers that the minor had a knife, he had threatened her, and that he was chasing her.*fn3 The officers immediately entered the home, found the minor in his bedroom, and handcuffed him. The knife was recovered in the bedroom closet.


The minor contends the juvenile court's order sustaining the criminal threat charge must be reversed because the evidence was insufficient to establish section 422's requirement that the victim "reasonably . . . be in sustained fear for his or her own safety." We conclude that while the mother's fear was reasonable, it was not, under the circumstances of this case, sustained as that term is used in section 422.

"The law regarding appellate review of claims challenging the sufficiency of the evidence in the juvenile context is the same as that governing review of sufficiency claims generally. [Citation.] In determining the sufficiency of the evidence, 'the relevant question is whether, after viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.' [Citation.] '[T]he court must review the whole record in the light most favorable to the judgment below to determine whether it discloses substantial evidence--that is, evidence which is reasonable, credible, and of ...

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