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No 290 Registration for Juvenile Who Rapes Cousin?

In April of 2020, in Riverside County, then-seventeen year-old minor, T.O., pulled his seven year-old cousin, Jane Doe, into a bedroom, covered her mouth with a scarf and then anally and vaginally raped her.  Jane reported the sexual assault to her mother and aunt the following day.  T.O. was then arrested.

On May 6, 2020, a juvenile delinquency petition was filed charging T.O., who was six weeks shy of his eighteenth birthday, with rape of a child under 14 years of age (Penal Code § 261(a)(2)) and forcible sodomy on a child under 14 years of age (Penal Code § 269(a)(3)).

As one might expect, the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office then filed a request to transfer jurisdiction to adult criminal court under Welfare & Institutions Code § 707(a)(1).

Almost a year later, on April 13, 2021, the juvenile court issued a written order denying the People’s request to transfer the matter to adult court.  The court thereafter transferred the matter to the probation department for recommendations regarding resolution.

The probation department responded with three possible dispositions for T.O.: the Alan Crogan Youth Treatment and Education Center (YTEC), Pathways to Success (Pathways), or the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ).

Pathways is “a secured treatment environment with a four-tiered school campus model resembling” the YTEC.”  The sexual behavior modification treatment follows a “modified version of the Department of Juvenile Justice’ (DJJ) program and after graduating, “youth do not have to register as a sex offender.” 

However, if a youth is placed in the DJJ program (closing in 2023), he or she must register as a sex offender.
Following further interviews and meetings, the probation officer ultimately recommended that T.O. be placed in the Pathways program.

The parties thereafter disputed whether T.O. would be required to register as a sex offender pursuant to Penal Code § 290.008 upon completion of the Pathways program should he admit to the allegations in the delinquency petition.

The sole issue of dispute was whether the commitment to a local secure facility required sex offender registration following Senate Bill (SB) 823, which codified the plan to close the DJJ within the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and establish local programs.

The judge in Riverside County decided T.O. did not have to register, reasoning that Penal Code § 290.008(a) requires registration when one is “discharged or paroled from the CDCR” and there is no separate provision for juveniles declared wards of the court, like T.O.  Consequently, since T.O. was to be placed in the Pathways program and not the DJJ and within the CDCR, he did not have to register.

T.O. then admitted the allegation that he raped a child under 14 years of age and seven or more years younger than him (Penal Code §§ 261(a)(2), 269(a)(1)).  The judge then declared T.O. a ward of the court, dismissed the remaining allegations in the petition and placed him in the Pathways program for four years.  The judge declined to order that T.O. register under Penal Code § 290.008.

The People appealed this order to the Fourth Appellate District in Riverside County, which affirmed the trial court.  The appellate court agreed that the key term in 290.008 was that sex offender registration is required for those who are “discharged or paroled” from the CDCR meant a juvenile could only be so required if he or she were referred to the DJJ.

Moreover, the juvenile court did not have the power to impose discretionary sex offender registration that it did with adult offenders.

In addition, the appellate court noted that Pathways was a modified alternative to the DJJ, not an equivalent.

We present this summary because the issue of having a juvenile register as a sex offender for admitting certain allegations in a juvenile petition is often misunderstood, even by judges.  The fact that SB 823 mandates that the DJJ will be ended in 2023 makes this issue much clearer.

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