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In re Anthony L.

California Court of Appeals, First District, Fourth Division

December 16, 2019

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

          City and County of San Francisco Superior Court No. JW186044 Hon. Michael Begert Trial Judge

          Counsel for Appellant: Leila H. Moncharsh, by Court-Appointment under the First District Appellate Project

          Counsel for Respondents: Xavier Becerra, Attorney General; Jeffrey M. Laurence, Senior Assistant Attorney General; Donna M. Provenzano, Supervising Deputy Attorney General; Melissa A. Meth, Deputy Attorney General

          TUCHER, J.

         Before interrogating a 15-year-old in custody, police must arrange for the youth to consult with counsel. (Welf. & Inst. Code, § 625.6, subd. (a).)[1] Here we address the admissibility of a statement taken in violation of this statutory command. Anthony L. (Minor) appeals a dispositional order of the juvenile court placing him on probation for committing assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury. (Pen. Code, § 245, subd. (a)(4).) He contends that the juvenile court should have excluded his statement to police officers, but because his rights under the United States Constitution were not violated, we disagree. We will strike an impermissibly vague probation condition and otherwise affirm the order.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         A. The Assault

         The victim of the crime, a 61-year-old man, pulled his car into the driveway of his home and waited for the garage gate to open. He saw a group of five teenagers nearby. They walked behind the victim's car, and he heard a loud bang, as if someone had hit or kicked his car. The victim got out of car and yelled at the teenagers, “ ‘Why did you do that? Why did you hit my car?' ” One of them responded, “ ‘How do you know we did it?' ” The victim said, “ ‘Well, did you do it?' ” The teenagers “came at” the victim, surrounded him, and hit and kicked him repeatedly on his head and face. They ran away when someone who worked nearby approached and yelled that he was calling the police.

         The incident was captured on nearby security cameras. One of Minor's teachers was shown a video and still photographs from the videos, and identified Minor as one of the assailants. She recognized him by the gray hooded sweatshirt he was wearing and the shape of his face. She checked a school photograph to “double check, ” but she was confident of her identification because she had been spending a lot of time with Minor since he had begun her class a couple of weeks previously.

         B. Minor's Statement to Police

         After the teacher identified Minor, Sergeant Christopher Smith of the San Francisco Police Department contacted Minor's mother (Mother). Smith told her he was investigating a crime and needed to set up a meeting with Minor and Mother. They arranged for Smith to come to the family's home at 11:30 on the morning of February 21, 2018, a school day. Mother had told Smith she would like a Spanish speaker present, and Officer Martinez, who spoke Spanish, accompanied Smith. Smith wore plain clothes with a police badge and firearm, and Martinez was in a police uniform. Martinez's body camera recorded the events, and there was a second audio recording.

         When the officers arrived, Mother led them to Minor's bedroom, where he was sleeping. Mother stayed in the room. Minor, who appeared to be wearing shorts, put pants on. He sat on his bed, and the officers remained standing.

         Smith began the interview by asking Minor his name and date of birth. Minor had recently turned 15. Smith handed Minor a “Juvenile Know Your Rights” form, and Minor looked down at it. Smith told Minor, “I'm going to read you your rights just because you're a juvenile. It's not-you're not under arrest right now, okay, just understand that. But because you're a juvenile we have to read you your rights, okay.” Minor nodded slightly. Smith then said, “You have the right to remain silent, do you understand?” Minor nodded, and Smith continued, “Anything you say may be used against you in court, do you understand?” Minor appeared to nod slightly but did not say anything, and Smith told him, “[Y]ou've got to verbally say it for me, ” and repeated the admonitions that Minor had the right to remain silent and that anything he said could be used against him in court, then informed Minor he had the right to an attorney and an attorney would be appointed free of charge before any questioning if he could not afford one. When asked if he understood each statement, Minor answered “Yes.” Smith did not ask Minor a common final question in a Miranda warning-“Having those rights in mind, do you now wish to speak with me?”-because he did not think Minor was in custody.

         Smith first asked Minor general questions about his schooling, asked whether Minor knew why Smith was there, then asked Minor where he was the evening of the assault. After asking Minor if he was currently under the influence of any substances and whether he had ever been arrested, Smith asked whether he remembered being by the Safeway store on Marina Boulevard. Minor nodded, and Smith said, “Can you verbalize that for me?” Minor said, “Yeah.” Smith said, “And what happened behind the Safeway on North Point Street?” Minor shrugged. Smith asked, “Did you do something you weren't supposed to do?” Minor again nodded, and Smith said, “Can you verbalize that for me?” Minor replied, “Yeah.”

         Smith asked Minor, “And what did you do?” and Minor was silent. Smith continued, “I know it's hard to talk man, it's-I don't want you to feel down on yourself, I seriously don't, but you know you did something wrong, right? So I don't want you to... feel like you're a bad person right now[, ] but I want to hear it from you what you did wrong.” Minor was silent and shrugged. Smith asked, “Do you remember an old guy in a car?” Minor nodded, and Smith said, “Okay, can you verbalize that for me?” Minor said, “Yeah.” Smith asked, “And what happened with the old white guy?” and Minor said, “He-he started, ” then said something unintelligible. Smith said, “I mean, there's video of it so I mean that's why I'm here. So I remember him yelling at you. Do you remember what he said to you?” Minor shook his head and said, “Huh-uh.”

         Smith asked Minor what caused the group to react as they did, and Minor said, “I forgot.” Smith continued, “But you remember what you guys did, what you and your friends did to him?” Minor nodded, and Smith asked, “Is that a yes?” Minor said, “Yeah.” Smith asked Minor to explain, and Minor said, “You all got the video you can see.” Smith told Minor that young people make mistakes, that he wanted him to “own up to [his] mistake, ” and that Minor should “man-up and take responsibility for [his] mistakes.” Smith asked Minor if he agreed, and Minor said, “Yes.” Smith continued, “So you want to man-up right now and tell me what happened? [Minor], can you tell me what you did?” Minor was silent. Smith asked Minor why he was being “shy, ” and Minor said, “Because I don't feel like talking.” Smith told Minor he had been speaking to Mother, who wanted Minor to do well, and that he should be in a program. Minor agreed he should not be “doing things like that day.” After further discussion about Minor's need for guidance and discipline and the importance of making good decisions, Smith asked if Minor could talk about what happened. Minor shook his head, and when asked why, said, “You all got the video you all can see what happened.” Smith reiterated that Minor should own up to what he did, and asked Minor how many times he punched the man. Minor said he did not know. Smith said, “Was it three or more?” and Minor again said he did not know. Smith said, “Was it one?” and Minor shook his head.

         Smith asked Minor for the names of the other people who were involved, and Minor said he did not know their names, then that he did not want to tell Smith. Smith asked why Minor hit the victim, and Minor said it was because the victim “said stuff.” In response to more questioning, he admitted that he kicked the car and that he hit the victim because the victim made him upset. Asked again for the names of the other people involved in the incident, Minor said again that he did not want to tell Smith. Smith then placed Minor under arrest.

         C. The Juvenile Court's Rulings

         A juvenile wardship petition alleged Minor committed assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury. (Pen. Code, § 245, subd. (a)(4).) Minor moved to exclude his statements to the police on constitutional and statutory grounds. The juvenile court denied the motion, finding that the interrogation was custodial but rejecting Minor's claims that his statements were obtained in violation of Miranda v. Arizona (1966) 384 U.S. 436 (Miranda) and were involuntary. For reasons discussed below, it also found no violation of section 625.6. Finding the allegations of the petition true, the court then declared Minor a ward and placed him on probation in Mother's home.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Challenges to Admission of Minor's Statements

         Minor renews before this court his challenge to the admission of his statement to the officers. He contends the officers improperly questioned him before he consulted with an attorney in violation of section 625.6 and that the juvenile court erred in failing to take that fact into account in admitting his statements. He argues the Miranda warnings were inadequate and he did not knowingly, voluntarily and intelligently waive his Miranda rights. Finally, he contends his statements were not voluntary because they were the product of coercion.

         1. Custodial ...


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