California Court of Appeals, Fourth District, Third Division
In re DEAN W., a Person Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law. THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,
DEAN W., Defendant and Appellant.
from an order of the Superior Court of Orange County No.
DL049617-001, Cheryl L. Leininger, Judge. Reversed with
Lindsey M. Ball, under appointment by the Court of Appeal,
for Defendant and Appellant.
Becerra, Attorney General, Gerald A. Engler, Chief Assistant
Attorney General, Julie L. Garland, Assistant Attorney
General, Barry Carlton and Heidi Salerno, Deputy Attorneys
General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.
juvenile court found that Dean W. (the ward) had committed a
misdemeanor violation of Vehicle Code section 23152, driving
under the influence. The court later found that the ward had
successfully completed his probation and terminated his
wardship. The court granted the ward's request to seal
his juvenile court records, except for one document regarding
his acknowledgment that he knew driving under the influence
of drugs or alcohol was dangerous to human life.
Welfare and Institutions Code allows minors who have
completed their rehabilitation to have “all”
records of their juvenile adjudication sealed. The Vehicle
Code authorizes criminal prosecutors to use a criminal
defendant's acknowledgment of the dangerousness of
driving under the influence as evidence of implied malice in
a later second degree murder case. We publish this case
because, based on the words of the statutes and their
underlying purposes and policies, the ward's right to
have all of his juvenile records sealed includes the
ward's acknowledgement of the dangerousness of driving
under the influence. Therefore, we reverse the juvenile
court's order, with directions to seal the entirety of
the ward's records, to ensure that other government
agencies specified in the statute seal the ward's
records, and to consider whether other government agencies
also be ordered to do so.
of Facts and Procedural History
juvenile court, the ward admitted to misdemeanor driving
while under the influence, in violation of Vehicle Code
section 23152, subdivision (b). He was declared a ward of the
court and placed on probation. The ward signed an advisement
pursuant to Vehicle Code section 23593 and People v.
Watson (1981) 30 Cal.3d 290, 296 (Watson),
which stated: “You are hereby advised that being under
the influence of alcohol or drugs, or both, impairs your
ability to safely operate/drive a motor vehicle. Therefore,
it is extremely dangerous to human life to drive while under
the influence of alcohol or drugs, or both. If you continue
to drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or
both, and, as a result of that driving, someone is killed,
you can be charged with murder.” The juvenile court
also recited the Watson advisement at the hearing at
which wardship was declared and probation was imposed.
months later, the juvenile court found the ward had
successfully completed probation and terminated his wardship.
The ward requested to have his juvenile records sealed under
Welfare and Institutions Code section 786. The district
attorney argued that sealing the ward's signed
Watson advisement would violate public policy. The
court ordered that the ward's juvenile record would be
sealed, with the exception of the Watson advisement.
The ward timely filed a notice of appeal.
issue before us is whether the trial court properly decided
not to seal the ward's juvenile record in full. This
question requires us to analyze two statutes-Welfare and
Institutions Code section 786 and Vehicle Code section 23593.
We review the matter de novo. (In re Joshua R.
(2017) 7 Cal.App.5th 864, 867.)
Welfare and Institutions Code Section 786
and Institutions Code section 786, which makes the sealing of
juvenile records mandatory when the juvenile has successfully
completed his or her probation or term of supervision, is
intended to further the goals of rehabilitation and
reintegration by giving juveniles the opportunity to clear
their records so that they may pursue education, employment,
or military service. Section 786 provides: “(a) If a
person who has been alleged or found to be a ward of the
juvenile court satisfactorily completes (1) an informal
program of supervision pursuant to Section 654.2, (2)
probation under Section 725, or (3) a term of probation for
any offense, the court shall order the petition dismissed.
The court shall order sealed all records pertaining
to that dismissed petition in the custody of the juvenile
court, and in the custody of law enforcement agencies, the
probation department, or the Department of Justice....
[¶] (b) Upon the court's order of dismissal of the
petition, the arrest and other proceedings in the case shall
be deemed not to have occurred and the person who was the
subject of the petition may reply accordingly to an inquiry