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In re D.B.

Supreme Court of California

April 3, 2014

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

Page 942

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 943

Superior Court of Sacramento County, No. JV125361, Stacy Boulware Eurie, Judge. Court of Appeal, Third Appelate District, C067353.

Robert McLaughlin, under appointment by the Supreme Court, for Defendant and Appellant.

Kamala D. Harris, Attorney General, Dane R. Gillette, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Michael P. Farrell, Assistant Attorney General, Catherine Chatman, Michael Dolida and Eric L. Christoffersen, Deputy Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.

OPINION

Page 944

[169 Cal.Rptr.3d 674] [320 P.3d 1138] CORRIGAN, J.

In this case, we answer a question we anticipated but left unresolved in In re Greg F. (2012) 55 Cal.4th 393 [146 Cal.Rptr.3d 272, 283 P.3d 1160] ( Greg F. ): When a Welfare and Institutions Code section 602 [1] petition alleges a minor has committed a series of criminal offenses, including serious or violent offenses, can the minor be committed to the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Division of Juvenile Facilities (DJF) if the last offense in the series is nonviolent? We hold that the answer is no.

Section 733, subdivision (c) (section 733(c)) generally prohibits a DJF commitment unless " the most recent offense alleged in any petition and admitted or found to be true by the court" is a violent or serious offense listed in section 707, subdivision (b) (section 707(b)) or a sex offense listed in Penal Code section 290.008, subdivision (c) (Penal Code section 290.008(c)). The Court of Appeal interpreted this language to mean that a DJF commitment is available only if a juvenile's most recently committed offense is listed in the relevant statutes. The People object that this interpretation could produce absurd consequences when, as in this case, a juvenile's violent crime spree happens to end with a nonviolent offense. They contend DJF eligibility under section 733(c) requires only that at least one of the offenses, most recently alleged in a petition and found true, be listed in section 707(b) or Penal Code section 290.008(c).

The People's interpretation is at odds with the clear statutory language. The statute premises DJF eligibility on the nature of a minor's " most recent offense" alleged in any section 602 petition and admitted or found true by the court. When a law is unambiguous, we must conclude the Legislature meant what it said even if the outcome strikes us as unwise or disagreeable. The plain language of section 733(c) mandates that a minor may not be committed to DJF unless the most recently committed offense that is alleged in any wardship petition, then admitted or found true, is listed in section 707(b) or Penal Code section 290.008(c).

I. BACKGROUND

Around 2:00 a.m. on May 23, 2010, Marcus Robinson was parked in front of his mother's house, talking on a cellular phone. D.B. and another person approached and asked to use the phone. As he returned the phone, D.B. reached through the window and punched Robinson in the face. Robinson tried to run but he was grabbed from behind, punched repeatedly, ...


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