California Court of Appeals, Second District, Sixth Division
In re M.B., a Person Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law. THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,
M.B., Defendant and Appellant.
Superior Court County, No. YJ39017 of Los Angeles J.
Christopher Smith, Judge.
Bernstein, under appointment by the Court of Appeal for
Defendant and Appellant.
Becerra, Attorney General, Lance E. Winters, Chief Assistant
Attorney General, Steven E. Mercer, Acting Supervising Deputy
Attorney General, Esther P. Kim, Deputy Attorney General, for
Plaintiff and Respondent.
Acting P. J.
“Dueñas” apply to a mandatory
minimum juvenile restitution fine? (People v.
Dueñas (2019) 30 Cal.App.5th 1157
(Dueñas).) No. This celebrated or denigrated
case has its followers and detractors at the Court of Appeal.
(See, e.g., People v. Belloso (2019) 42 Cal.App.5th
647.) Here, Dueñas attempts to rear its head in
juvenile jurisprudence. As we shall explain, even if this
case is “good law, ” it does not apply to a
mandatory minimum juvenile restitution fine.
appeals a disposition order entered after the juvenile court
sustained five petitions (Welf. & Inst. Code, §
602) for, inter alia, first degree
residential burglary. (Pen. Code, § 459.) The trial
court declared appellant a ward of the court, placed him in a
camp community program, and ordered him to pay the mandatory
minimum $100 restitution fine. (§ 730.6, subd. (b)(1).)
claims that ordering him to pay the $100 restitution fine
violates his due process rights because the trial court did
not determine whether he had the financial ability to pay
such a fine.
not agree. Appellant was ordered to pay the mandatory minimum
restitution fine allowable under section 730.6, subdivision
(b)(1). The statute provides that in imposing a section 730.6
fine, the trial court “shall consider any relevant
factors including, but not limited to, the minor's
ability to pay....” (§ 730.6, subd. (d)(1).) It
further provides that “[t]he consideration of
minor's ability to pay may include his... future earning
capacity” and “[the] minor shall bear the burden
of demonstrating a lack of his... ability to pay.”
(Id., subd. (d)(2); see also § 730.7, subd. (a)
[future earning capacity of minor's parent or guardian
may also be considered].) The presumption is, and we believe,
that the juvenile court followed these legislative
involved a mandatory adult restitution fine (Pen. Code,
§ 1202.4) and assessments (Gov. Code, § 70373; Pen.
Code, § 1465.8) in an adult criminal matter.
(Dueñas, supra, 30 Cal.App.5th at
pp. 1161-1162.) After Dueñas was convicted of driving
with a suspended license and granted probation, she requested
a hearing on her ability to pay the fine and assessments. The
trial court determined that the fine and assessments were
mandatory and rejected defendant's constitutional
arguments. (Id. at p. 1163.) The Court of Appeal
reversed, concluding that due process requires that a trial
court “conduct an ability to pay hearing and ascertain
a defendant's present ability to pay” before it
imposes assessments under Penal Code section 1465.8 or
Government Code section 70373. (Dueñas, at p.
1164.) The court further held that the restitution fine
imposed under Penal Code section 1202.4 posed constitutional
concerns because the trial court was precluded from
considering defendant's ability to pay when imposing the
minimum fine authorized by the statute. To avoid this
constitutional problem, the Dueñas court held
that execution of the mandatory fine under Penal Code section
1202.4 must be stayed until defendant's ability to pay is
determined. (Dueñas, at pp. 1172-1173.)
reaching its conclusions, Dueñas pointed out
that the defendant was indigent, homeless, unemployed, had
two young children, and had cerebral palsy.
(Dueñas, supra, 30 Cal.App.5th at p. 1160.)
She was receiving state financial aid and food stamps.
(Id. at p. 1161.) It relied upon Ninth Circuit Court
of Appeal authority which pointed out that punitive fines and
fees “‘can lay a debt trap for the
poor....'” (Id. at p. 1163.)
argues, by analogy, that the mandatory minimum restitution
fine must be stayed pending a hearing on his ability to pay.
But the Dueñas court's analysis of
criminal restitution fines under Penal Code section 1202.4 is
inapplicable to restitution fines imposed in the juvenile
court under section 730.6. Section 730.6 is similar, but not
identical, to Penal Code section 1202.4. It requires that the
juvenile court impose a restitution fine of not less than
$100 and not more than $1, 000 on any minor found to be a
person described in section 602 by reason of the commission
of one or more felony offenses. (§ 730.6, subd. (b)(1).)
Like its criminal counterpart, the juvenile restitution
statute provides for a mandatory minimum restitution fine in
felony cases and states that the fine “shall be
imposed regardless of the minor's inability to
pay.” (§ 730.6, subd. (c), underlining added;
compare Pen. Code, § 1202.4, subds. (b) & (c).) This
seems to be pretty straightforward. The Legislature also
expressly says: “[a] separate hearing for the
[restitution] fine shall not be required.” (§
730.6, subd. (b)(1).) This also seems pretty straightforward.
None of the considerations that were at play in
Dueñas (ante, pp. 2-3) are present here.
extent that Dueñas purports to state a rule
of California criminal procedure, we question whether the
Court of Appeal, as opposed to the Supreme Court, has the
authority to do so. We are not bound by a sister appellate
court opinion and we are obligated to follow our California
Constitution, Article 6, § 13. We cannot say that a $100
mandatory juvenile restitution fine resulted in a miscarriage
of justice. And, we decline to now order the further
expenditure of scarce judicial resources to
“chase” a $100 mandatory minimum restitution
view, the time for a financial hearing should be when someone
tries to enforce compliance with a “criminal”
sanction. At that time, inability to pay by reason of
indigency is a relevant consideration. Finally, we observe
that a ...