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In re Charles G.

California Court of Appeals, First District, Second Division

August 31, 2017

In re CHARLES G., a Person coming under the Juvenile Court Law.
v.
CHARLES G., Defendant and Appellant. THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,

          Order modifying published opinion filed 8/25/17

         Superior Court Contra Costa County No. J1501141 Hon. John T. Laettner Judge

          Jamie M. Weyand, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Defendant and Appellant.

          Xavier Becerra, Attorney General, Gerald A. Engler, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Jeffrey M. Laurence, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Eric D. Share, Supervising Deputy Attorney General, Joan Killeen and Amit Kurlekar, Deputy Attorneys General for Plaintiff and Respondent.

         ORDER MODIFYING OPINION [NO CHANGE IN JUDGMENT]

         THE COURT:

         It is ordered that the published opinion filed herein on August 25, 2017, be modified as follows:

         Beginning on the first line of page 3, the phrase, “We reject Charles's claim for a simple reason passed over by the parties:” is modified to delete “passed over by the parties.” The phrase shall read, “We reject Charles's claim for a simple reason:”.

         There is no change in the judgment.

          STEWART, J.

         Charles G. appeals from the juvenile court's jurisdictional order in a Welfare and Institutions section 602 proceeding. Charles argues that we should reverse the court's finding that he carried a concealed firearm in violation of Penal Code section 25400[1] as unlawful because that statute is preempted by a more specific statute that targets minors, section 29610, which the court also found he violated. Charles also argues there was insufficient evidence to support the juvenile court's finding that he willfully resisted, delayed, or obstructed a peace officer in that officer's discharge of his duties in violation of section 148.

         We disagree that section 29610 preempts section 25400. We conclude the statutes prohibit different conduct and affirm the juvenile court's findings that Charles violated both statutes. We agree with Charles that there was insufficient evidence that he violated section 148 and therefore reverse this part of the court's ruling.

         BACKGROUND

         In December 2015, the Contra Costa County District Attorney filed a petition alleging Charles committed a felony violation of section 29610 for possession of a firearm by a minor; a felony violation of section 25400, subdivision (a)(2) for having a concealed firearm on his person; and a misdemeanor violation of section 148, subdivision (a)(1) for resisting, obstructing or delaying a peace officer in that officer's performance of his duties.

         In August 2016, the juvenile court commenced a hearing regarding Charles's motion to suppress evidence under Welfare and Institutions Code section 700.1 and regarding jurisdiction. The court denied the section 700.1 motion and sustained all three counts, but subsequently granted Charles's motion to reduce the two firearm felony violations to misdemeanors. At a subsequent disposition hearing, the court committed Charles to Orin Allen Youth Rehabilitation Facility for a six-month regular program.

         Charles subsequently filed a timely notice of appeal.

         DISCUSSION

         I.

         Section 29610 Does Not Preempt Section 25400, Subdivision (a)(2).

         Charles first argues the juvenile court improperly found he violated both section 25400, subdivision (a)(2), which prohibits a person from carrying a concealed firearm, and section 29610, which prohibits a minor from possessing a firearm capable of concealment on his or her person. He contends the juvenile court should have found he violated section 29610 only because it is the more specific statute and, therefore, preempts section 25400, subdivision (a)(2).[2] The People agree with Charles that the statutes involve the same conduct, but argue that section 29610 does not preempt section 25400 because it does not prescribe lesser punishment. We do not further consider the parties' debate on this issue. We reject Charles's claim for a simple reason passed over by the parties: a violation of section 29610 is not necessarily or commonly a violation of section 25400, subdivision (a)(2) and, therefore, section 29610 does not preempt section 25400, subdivision (a)(2).

         A. General Legal Standards

         “ ‘Questions of statutory interpretation are, of course, pure matters of law upon which we may exercise our independent judgment.' ” (In re Tobacco II Cases (2009) 46 Cal.4th 298, 311.) “[I]f a general statute includes the same conduct as a special statute, the court infers that the Legislature intended that conduct to be prosecuted exclusively under the special statute.” (People v. Murphy (2011) 52 Cal.4th 81, 86 (Murphy).) This “Williamson rule, ” first formulated in In re Williamson (1954) 43 Cal.2d 651, 654 (Williamson), is a rule of judicial interpretation that is designed to “ ‘ascertain and carry out legislative intent. The fact that the Legislature has enacted a specific statute covering much the same ground as a more general law is a powerful indication that the Legislature intended the specific provision alone to apply.' ” (Murphy, at p. 86.)

         The Williamson rule is triggered “when ‘it appears from the statutory context that a violation of the special statute will necessarily or commonly result in a violation of the general statute.' ” (Murphy, supra, 52 Cal.4th at p. 86.) On the other hand, we do not assume the Legislature intended to preclude prosecution under the general statute if it “contains an element that is not contained in the special ...


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