A Juvenile Court May Not Transfer Case to Adult Court
About a month later, the People file a criminal complaint in Superior Court, charging Juan G. as an adult for an earlier attempted murder.What to Take Away: The following opinion, although issued prior to the passage of Prop 57, remains good law – a juvenile court judge may not transfer a case to adult court without a proper hearing.
When the juvenile court judge was advised of the filing in superior court, he transferred the juvenile cases to superior court without any hearing. Juan G. then appealed these transfers, arguing that the juvenile court conduct a hearing on each juvenile case before transferring the cases to superior court, where he would be treated as an adult.
The court then must order an investigation and report by the probation department on the behavior patterns and social history of the minor. The judge is then obligated to evaluate whether the minor is amenable to the treatment and training programs available through the juvenile court. The judge is allowed to consider the criminal sophistication, criminal history and prior rehabilitation efforts of the minor and whether he has the potential for rehabilitation.
If the minor, such as Juan G., is alleged to have committed an offense listed under Penal Code § 707(b) and if over fourteen years old, a fitness hearing is not mandatory. Because of the seriousness of the crimes listed under § 707(b), there is a presumption that the minor is unfit for juvenile court. The minor then must persuade the judge that he is amenable to treatment under juvenile court programs.
In other words, the appellate court ruled that it was error for the juvenile court judge to transfer the two pending 602 petitions to superior court for prosecution based on that inadequate finding. Under Manduley v. Superior Court (2002) 27 Cal. 4th 537, “where a statute confers a right to a judicial determination of fitness for a juvenile court disposition, the due process clause [of the U.S. Constitution] requires that the determination be made in compliance with the basic procedural protections afforded to similar judicial determinations.” Id., at 566.
Thus, the Appellate Court granted Juan G.’s petition and ordered the juvenile court to vacate its order finding Juan G. unfit for juvenile court and to further conduct a fitness hearing under Penal Code § 707(c).
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