In re Ricardo C – Case Brief Summary (California)

In In re Ricardo C. (2013) 220 Cal.App.4th 688, the minor admitted attempted robbery and criminal threat allegations in exchange for being placed in a Youthful Offender Program (YOP) at Juvenile Hall.

The court, however, placed the minor in a less restrictive placement and the People appealed, contending the placement contravened the agreed-upon terms of the negotiated disposition.

The Ricardo C. court agreed and reversed.

It held "the juvenile court properly adverted to its own inherent discretion and duty to select a disposition that was in the best interest of minor. The court was correct that the parties could not themselves create a bargain that would usurp the juvenile court's discretion or bind the court to a disposition the court viewed as inconsistent with its duty. . . . 'The court, upon sentencing, has broad discretion to withdraw its prior approval of a negotiated plea.' 'Such withdrawal is permitted, for example, in those instances where the court becomes more fully informed about the case , or where, after further consideration, the court concludes that the bargain is not in the best interests of society.' In deciding whether or not to withdraw approval of a plea bargain, the court may of course 'be expected to consult the probation report. . .' That is evidently what occurred here. The juvenile court considered the probation report, including the probation department's reasons for recommending a placement other than the agreed-upon assignment to YOP. The court exercised its independent discretion to select a placement at Twin Pines Ranch, rather than the agreed-upon placement at YOP. Once it determined to do so, however, the juvenile court had effectively withdrawn its approval of the plea bargain. Under such circumstances, the court could not proceed to apply and enforce certain parts of the plea bargain, while ignoring the provision that had been material to the People's agreement to the bargain. The court was therefore constrained to reject the plea bargain and to restore the parties to their former positions. In other words, the court should have set aside the plea and reinstated all the allegations of the petitions filed against minor." (Ricardo C., supra, 220 Cal.App.4th at p. 699.)