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In re M.T.

California Court of Appeals, First District, Third Division

December 24, 2019

In re M.T., a Person Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law. THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,
M.T., Defendant and Appellant.

          Contra Costa County Superior Court No. J1800198 Hon. Lois Haight Trial Judge

          Xavier Becerra, Attorney General, Berit G. Fitzsimmons, Deputy Attorney General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.

          First District Appellate Project, L. Richard Braucher, for Defendant and Appellant.

          Petrou, J.

         Appellant M.T. challenges an August 20, 2018 restitution order imposed as a condition of her release on a program of supervision (“informal supervision”) under section 654.2 of the Welfare and Institutions Code.[1] We conclude dismissal is mandated as the order is neither a judgment nor an order after judgment for which an appeal is authorized under section 800.[2]


         We set forth only those facts necessary to give context to our ruling.

         On March 6, 2018, the Contra Costa County District Attorney filed a section 602 petition, later amended, alleging appellant had committed a misdemeanor battery against a fellow student (victim) on school property (Pen. Code, §§ 242, 243.2, subd. (a)(1)). The charge arose from a physical fight between appellant and the victim during which the victim's cell phone and case dropped to the ground. While the fight was being broken up by school staff, another student picked up and stole the victim's cell phone and case.

         On April 4, appellant appeared before the juvenile court and denied the amended allegation; the matter was referred to the probation department for a determination of suitability for informal supervision under section 654.2, subdivision (a). On May 9, the juvenile court placed appellant on informal supervision for six months, with standard conditions of probation. Without objection by appellant, the juvenile court left the amount of restitution “open, ” but directed that appellant and her parents, and a co-participant minor, would be jointly and severally liable to pay restitution to the victim pursuant to sections 730.7, subdivisions (a) and (b), and 730.6, subdivision (j)(4), restitution provisions generally applicable to minors already adjudicated as persons described in section 602. The juvenile court informed appellant she had a right to appeal within 60 days of the order and set a restitution hearing.

         The contested restitution hearing went forward on August 20, 2018. In advance of the hearing, the probation department filed a report stating it had received a victim impact and claim statement seeking restitution in the aggregate sum of $989 for: the cell phone ($869.00) and cash ($80.00) located in the cell phone case stolen during the attack; $10 insurance copay for an emergency room visit for injuries incurred in the attack; and $30 insurance copay for three therapy visits. Appellant objected to the juvenile court imposing restitution for the loss of the victim's cell phone and the money in the case because the property had been taken by another student with whom she had no association. The People argued the property fell to the ground because the victim had to defend herself against appellant and, therefore, appellant should be held responsible for the victim's loss.

         Appellant filed a timely notice of appeal from the August 20, 2018 order, stating the juvenile court had abused its discretion and ruled in error when it ordered her “to pay restitution for a theft she was not involved in nor charged with.”


         I. Applicable Law

         “The Legislature has mandated that minors who fall within the jurisdiction of the juvenile court as a result of delinquent behavior ‘shall, in conformity with the interests of public safety and protection, receive care, treatment, and guidance that is consistent with their best interest, that holds them accountable for their behavior, and that is appropriate for their circumstances. This guidance may include punishment that is consistent with the rehabilitative objectives of this chapter.' [Citations.] Consistent with this mandate, the Legislature enacted section 654, which... ‘authorizes an informal supervision program for a minor who in the opinion of the probation officer is, or will probably soon be, within the jurisdiction of the juvenile court. The purpose of the informal supervision program is to provide assistance and services to the minor and the minor's family to “adjust the situation” and avoid further involvement in the formal juvenile criminal justice system.... [¶] In 1989 section 654.2 was enacted to permit the court to order a section 654 informal supervision program for a minor after a section 602 petition has been filed.' [Citations.]” (Derick B. v. Superior Court (2009) 180 Cal.App.4th 295, 300-301 (Derick B.).) Where the minor has violated an offense in which the ...

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