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In re V.C.

California Court of Appeals, Third District, Sacramento

July 2, 2013

In re V.C., a Person Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law. THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,
v.
V.C., Defendant and Appellant.

APPEAL from an order of the Superior Court of Sacramento County, No. JV133312 Robert M. Twiss, Judge.

Roshni Mehta, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Defendant and Appellant.

Kamala D. Harris, Attorney General, Dane R. Gillette, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Michael P. Farrell, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Michael A. Canzoneri and Angelo S. Edralin, Deputy Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.

NICHOLSON, J.

Following a motor vehicle collision caused by the minor in which another suffered property damage, a petition was filed in the Sacramento County Juvenile Court alleging minor V.C., age 15, operated a motor vehicle without a valid driver’s license (Veh. Code, § 12500, subd. (a); count one), a misdemeanor; and drove at an unsafe speed (Veh. Code, § 22350; count two), an infraction. Following a contested jurisdictional hearing, the prosecution made a motion to dismiss count one for insufficient evidence. The court granted the motion and found count two to be true beyond a reasonable doubt.

Two days later, the minor made a written a motion to dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction. The next day, the juvenile court denied the motion and found the minor was described within the meaning of Welfare and Institutions Code section 602.[1] The minor was placed on court probation for six months, ordered to participate in community service, and ordered to make restitution to the victim for property damage in an amount to be determined.

On appeal, the minor contends his motion to dismiss was erroneously denied because the juvenile court’s dismissal of count one stripped the court of jurisdiction over count two. We affirm.

FACTS [2]

The minor was driving a black Acura southbound on 88th Street near Fruitridge Road at an unsafe speed. He lost control of the car and ran into the trailer portion of an Allied Van Lines big rig. The car came to rest up against a tree. The minor’s car had major damage. The Allied trailer sustained damage to the right side. The minor did not provide a driver’s license or proof of insurance.

DISCUSSION

The minor contends the juvenile court erred when it denied his motion to dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction. He reasons that, following dismissal of the count one misdemeanor allegation, section 603.5 required the court to transfer the count two infraction to the superior court because the juvenile court no longer had jurisdiction. We are not persuaded.

Section 603.5, subdivision (a) provides: “Notwithstanding any other provision of law, in a county that adopts the provisions of this section, jurisdiction over the case of a minor alleged to have committed only a violation of the Vehicle Code classified as an infraction or a violation of a local ordinance involving the driving, parking, or operation of a motor vehicle, is with the superior court, except that the court may refer to the juvenile court for adjudication, cases involving a minor who has been adjudicated a ward of the juvenile court, or who has other matters pending in the juvenile court.”

The minor contends section 603.5 has an “unmistakable plain meaning, ” and there is “no need to look outside the ordinary meaning of the word ‘alleged.’ ” (See, e.g., Green v. State of California (2007) 42 Cal.4th 254, 260.) He claims the “plain meaning” is that, once the misdemeanor was dismissed, the only matter still “alleged” before the court was the infraction.

The minor’s argument disregards the statute’s ambiguity with respect to timing, specifically, whether it operates only upon the filing of cases in court, or whether it also governs the retention of cases after they have been filed. When it filed this case, the prosecution alleged both a misdemeanor and an infraction. There is no contention section 603.5 deprived the juvenile court of jurisdiction at the time of filing. The only issue is whether the statute prohibited the case from being retained in ...


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