California Welfare and Institutions Code section 731
In In re Ali A. (2006) 139 Cal.App.4th 569, the minor was placed in the custody of his parents under the supervision of a probation officer, and the juvenile court set the maximum confinement term at three years, the upper term for the offense.
The minor contended that the juvenile court failed to exercise its discretion in setting the maximum term of physical confinement pursuant to California Welfare and Institutions Code section 731, subdivision (b), because that section permits the juvenile court to set the maximum term of confinement at less than the highest of the three statutory terms for the offense.
The reviewing court rejected the minor's contention, observing that this provision of California Welfare and Institutions Code section 731, subdivision (b) applies only to commitments to the California Youth Authority. (Ali A., supra, at pp. 572-573.)
Section 731, subdivision (b), as modified effective January 1, 2004, provides, in pertinent part, that "a minor committed to the Department of the Youth Authority . . . may not be held in physical confinement for a period of time in excess of the maximum term of physical confinement set by the court based upon the facts and circumstances of the matter or matters which brought or continued the minor under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court . . . ."
The Court of Appeal continued, "Given that the juvenile court did not commit the minor to the CYA, one may well ask why the juvenile court's dispositional order included a maximum term of confinement." (Ali A., supra, 139 Cal.App.4th at p. 573.)
The court concluded that since the minor had not been committed to the CYA or removed from the custody of his parents, and therefore neither section 731, subdivision (b) nor section 726, subdivision (c) was applicable, the juvenile court had no discretion--or was not required--to set a maximum term of confinement. (Ali A., supra, at pp. 571, 573.)
The Ali A. court simply affirmed the order of probation, finding that the maximum term of confinement contained in the dispositional order was "of no legal effect" until such time as the minor violated probation, a section 777 hearing was held, and the court modified the current disposition and removed him from his parents' custody, at which time the juvenile court would have to set and/or declare a maximum term of confinement in accordance with section 726, subdivision (c) and, if applicable, section 731, subdivision (b). (Ali A., supra, 139 Cal.App.4th at pp. 573-574.)
Concluding that the minor was "not prejudiced by the presence of the maximum confinement term," the court held that there was "no basis for reversal or remand in this case." (Id. at p. 574.)
In this regard, the court noted:
"The minor suggests that if this maximum term of confinement is not stricken and he is later committed to the CYA, the judge responsible for that disposition may believe he or she is required to impose the three-year maximum term contained in the present order. We trust that will not occur, as this opinion will be part of the file in this proceeding, and we have made it clear that the maximum term of confinement in the present order is of no legal effect." (Id. at p. 574, fn. 2.)