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AB-1214 Juvenile proceedings: competency.(2017-2018)

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Date Published: 10/01/2018 09:00 PM
AB1214:v93#DOCUMENT

Assembly Bill No. 1214
CHAPTER 991

An act to amend Section 712 of, and to repeal and add Section 709 of, the Welfare and Institutions Code, relating to juveniles.

[ Approved by Governor  September 30, 2018. Filed with Secretary of State  September 30, 2018. ]

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 1214, Mark Stone. Juvenile proceedings: competency.
Existing law authorizes, during the pendency of any juvenile proceeding, the minor’s counsel or the court to express a doubt as to the minor’s competency. Existing law requires proceedings to be suspended if the court finds substantial evidence raises a doubt as to the minor’s competency. Upon suspension of proceedings, existing law requires the court to order that the question of the minor’s competence be determined at a hearing. Existing law requires the court to appoint an expert, as specified, to evaluate whether the minor suffers from a mental disorder, developmental disability, developmental immaturity, or other condition and, if so, whether the condition or conditions impair the minor’s competency.
This bill would revise and recast these provisions to, among other things, expand upon the duties imposed upon the expert during his or her evaluation of a minor whose competency is in doubt, as specified. The bill would authorize the district attorney or minor’s counsel to retain or seek the appointment of additional qualified experts with regard to determining competency, as specified. The bill would require the Judicial Council to adopt a rule of court relating to the qualifications of those experts, as specified. The bill would require the minor’s competency to be determined at an evidentiary hearing, except as specified, and establish a presumption of competency, unless it is proven by a preponderance of the evidence that he or she is incompetent. If the minor is found incompetent and the petition contains only misdemeanor offenses, the bill would require the petition to be dismissed. The bill would require the court, upon a finding of incompetency, to refer the minor to services designed to help the minor attain competency unless the court finds that competency cannot be achieved within the foreseeable future, would authorize the court to refer the minor to treatment services to assist in remediation, and would require the court to consider appropriate alternatives to juvenile hall confinement, as specified. The bill would require the presiding judge of a juvenile court, the probation department, the county mental health department, and other specified entities to develop a written protocol describing the competency process and a program to ensure that minors who are found incompetent receive appropriate remediation services. By imposing additional duties on local officials, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program.
This bill would also make conforming changes.
The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.
This bill would provide that with regard to certain mandates no reimbursement is required by this act for a specified reason.
With regard to any other mandates, this bill would provide that, if the Commission on State Mandates determines that the bill contains costs so mandated by the state, reimbursement for those costs shall be made pursuant to the statutory provisions noted above.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: YES  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 Section 709 of the Welfare and Institutions Code is repealed.

SEC. 2.

 Section 709 is added to the Welfare and Institutions Code, to read:

709.
 (a) (1) If the court has a doubt that a minor who is subject to any juvenile proceedings is competent, the court shall suspend all proceedings and proceed pursuant to this section.
(2) A minor is incompetent for purposes of this section if he or she lacks sufficient present ability to consult with counsel and assist in preparing his or her defense with a reasonable degree of rational understanding, or lacks a rational as well as factual understanding of the nature of the charges or proceedings against him or her. Incompetency may result from the presence of any condition or conditions, including, but not limited to, mental illness, mental disorder, developmental disability, or developmental immaturity. Except as specifically provided otherwise, this section applies to a minor who is alleged to come within the jurisdiction of the court pursuant to Section 601 or 602.
(3) Notwithstanding paragraph (1), during the pendency of any juvenile proceeding, the court may receive information from any source regarding the minor’s ability to understand the proceedings. The minor’s counsel or the court may express a doubt as to the minor’s competency. If the court finds substantial evidence that raises a doubt as to the minor’s competency, the proceedings shall be suspended.
(b) (1) Unless the parties stipulate to a finding that the minor lacks competency, or the parties are willing to submit on the issue of the minor’s lack of competency, the court shall appoint an expert to evaluate the minor and determine whether the minor suffers from a mental illness, mental disorder, developmental disability, developmental immaturity, or other condition affecting competency and, if so, whether the minor is incompetent as defined in paragraph (2) of subdivision (a).
(2) The expert shall have expertise in child and adolescent development and forensic evaluation of juveniles for purposes of adjudicating competency, shall be familiar with competency standards and accepted criteria used in evaluating juvenile competency, shall have received training in conducting juvenile competency evaluations, and shall be familiar with competency remediation for the condition or conditions affecting competence in the particular case.
(3) The expert shall personally interview the minor and review all of the available records provided, including, but not limited to, medical, education, special education, probation, child welfare, mental health, regional center, and court records, and any other relevant information that is available. The expert shall consult with the minor’s counsel and any other person who has provided information to the court regarding the minor’s lack of competency. The expert shall gather a developmental history of the minor. If any information is unavailable to the expert, he or she shall note in the report the efforts to obtain that information. The expert shall administer age-appropriate testing specific to the issue of competency unless the facts of the particular case render testing unnecessary or inappropriate. The expert shall be proficient in the language preferred by the minor, or, if that is not feasible, the expert shall employ the services of a certified interpreter and use assessment tools that are linguistically and culturally appropriate for the minor. In a written report, the expert shall opine whether the minor has the sufficient present ability to consult with his or her counsel with a reasonable degree of rational understanding and whether he or she has a rational and factual understanding of the proceedings against him or her. The expert shall also state the basis for these conclusions. If the expert concludes that the minor lacks competency, the expert shall give his or her opinion on whether the minor is likely to attain competency in the foreseeable future, and, if so, make recommendations regarding the type of remediation services that would be effective in assisting the minor in attaining competency.
(4) The Judicial Council, in conjunction with groups or individuals representing judges, defense counsel, district attorneys, chief probation officers, counties, advocates for people with developmental and mental disabilities, experts in special education testing, psychologists and psychiatrists specializing in adolescents, professional associations and accredited bodies for psychologists and psychiatrists, and other interested stakeholders, shall adopt a rule of court identifying the training and experience needed for an expert to be competent in forensic evaluations of juveniles. The Judicial Council shall develop and adopt rules for the implementation of the other requirements in this subdivision.
(5) Statements made to the appointed expert during the minor’s competency evaluation and statements made by the minor to mental health professionals during the remediation proceedings, and any fruits of these statements, shall not be used in any other hearing against the minor in either juvenile or adult court.
(6) The district attorney or minor’s counsel may retain or seek the appointment of additional qualified experts who may testify during the competency hearing. The expert’s report and qualifications shall be disclosed to the opposing party within a reasonable time before, but no later than five court days before, the hearing. If disclosure is not made in accordance with this paragraph, the court may make any order necessary to enforce the provisions of this paragraph, including, but not limited to, immediate disclosure, contempt proceedings, delaying or prohibiting the testimony of the expert or consideration of the expert’s report upon a showing of good cause, or any other lawful order. If, after disclosure of the report, the opposing party requests a continuance in order to further prepare for the hearing and shows good cause for the continuance, the court shall grant a continuance for a reasonable period of time. This paragraph does not allow a qualified expert retained or appointed by the district attorney to perform a competency evaluation on a minor without an order from the juvenile court after petitioning the court for an order pursuant to the Civil Discovery Act (Title 4 (commencing with Section 2016.010) of Part 4 of the Code of Civil Procedure).
(7) If the expert believes the minor is developmentally disabled, the court shall appoint the director of a regional center for developmentally disabled individuals described in Article 1 (commencing with Section 4620) of Chapter 5 of Division 4.5, or his or her designee, to evaluate the minor. The director of the regional center, or his or her designee, shall determine whether the minor is eligible for services under the Lanterman Developmental Disabilities Services Act (Division 4.5 (commencing with Section 4500)), and shall provide the court with a written report informing the court of his or her determination. The court’s appointment of the director of the regional center for determination of eligibility for services shall not delay the court’s proceedings for determination of competency.
(8) An expert’s opinion that a minor is developmentally disabled does not supersede an independent determination by the regional center whether the minor is eligible for services under the Lanterman Developmental Disabilities Services Act (Division 4.5 (commencing with Section 4500)).
(9) This section shall not be interpreted to authorize or require either of the following:
(A) The placement of a minor who is incompetent in a developmental center or community facility operated by the State Department of Developmental Services without a determination by a regional center director, or his or her designee, that the minor has a developmental disability and is eligible for services under the Lanterman Developmental Disabilities Services Act (Division 4.5 (commencing with Section 4500)).
(B) Determinations regarding the competency of a minor by the director of the regional center or his or her designee.
(c) The question of the minor’s competency shall be determined at an evidentiary hearing unless there is a stipulation or submission by the parties on the findings of the expert that the minor is incompetent. It shall be presumed that the minor is mentally competent, unless it is proven by a preponderance of the evidence that the minor is mentally incompetent. With respect to a minor under 14 years of age at the time of the commission of the alleged offense, the court shall make a determination as to the minor’s capacity pursuant to Section 26 of the Penal Code prior to deciding the issue of competency.
(d) If the court finds the minor to be competent, the court shall reinstate proceedings and proceed commensurate with the court’s jurisdiction.
(e) If the court finds, by a preponderance of evidence, that the minor is incompetent, all proceedings shall remain suspended for a period of time that is no longer than reasonably necessary to determine whether there is a substantial probability that the minor will attain competency in the foreseeable future, or the court no longer retains jurisdiction and the case must be dismissed. Prior to a dismissal, the court may make orders that it deems appropriate for services. Further, the court may rule on motions that do not require the participation of the minor in the preparation of the motions. These motions include, but are not limited to, all of the following:
(1) Motions to dismiss.
(2) Motions regarding a change in the placement of the minor.
(3) Detention hearings.
(4) Demurrers.
(f) If the minor is found to be incompetent and the petition contains only misdemeanor offenses, the petition shall be dismissed.
(g) (1) Upon a finding of incompetency, the court shall refer the minor to services designed to help the minor attain competency, unless the court finds that competency cannot be achieved within the foreseeable future. The court may also refer the minor to treatment services to assist in remediation that may include, but are not limited to, mental health services, treatment for trauma, medically supervised medication, behavioral counseling, curriculum-based legal education, or training in socialization skills, consistent with any laws requiring consent. Service providers and evaluators shall adhere to the standards stated in this section and the California Rules of Court. Services shall be provided in the least restrictive environment consistent with public safety, as determined by the court. A finding of incompetency alone shall not be the basis for secure confinement. The minor shall be returned to court at the earliest possible date. The court shall review remediation services at least every 30 calendar days for minors in custody and every 45 calendar days for minors out of custody prior to the expiration of the total remediation period specified in paragraph (3) of subdivision (h). If the minor is in custody, the county mental health department shall provide the court with suitable alternatives for the continued delivery of remediation services upon release from custody as part of the court’s review of remediation services. The court shall consider appropriate alternatives to juvenile hall confinement, including, but not limited to, all of the following:
(A) Developmental centers.
(B) Placement through regional centers.
(C) Short-term residential therapeutic programs.
(D) Crisis residential programs.
(E) Civil commitment.
(F) Foster care, relative placement, or other nonsecure placement.
(G) Other residential treatment programs.
(2) The court may make any orders necessary to assist with the delivery of remediation services in an alternative setting to secure confinement.
(h) (1) Within six months of the initial receipt of a recommendation by the designated person or entity, the court shall hold an evidentiary hearing on whether the minor is remediated or is able to be remediated unless the parties stipulate to, or agree to the recommendation of, the remediation program. If the recommendation is that the minor has attained competency, and if the minor disputes that recommendation, the burden is on the minor to prove by a preponderance of evidence that he or she remains incompetent. If the recommendation is that the minor is unable to be remediated and if the prosecutor disputes that recommendation, the burden is on the prosecutor to prove by a preponderance of evidence that the minor is remediable. If the prosecution contests the evaluation of continued incompetence, the minor shall be presumed incompetent and the prosecution shall have the burden to prove by a preponderance of evidence that the minor is competent. The provisions of subdivision (c) shall apply at this stage of the proceedings.
(2) If the court finds that the minor has been remediated, the court shall reinstate the proceedings.
(3) If the court finds that the minor has not yet been remediated, but is likely to be remediated within six months, the court shall order the minor to return to the remediation program. However, the total remediation period shall not exceed one year from the finding of incompetency and secure confinement shall not exceed the limit specified in subparagraph (A) of paragraph (5).
(4) If the court finds that the minor will not achieve competency within six months, the court shall dismiss the petition. The court may invite persons and agencies with information about the minor, including, but not limited to, the minor and his or her attorney, the probation department, parents, guardians, or relative caregivers, mental health treatment professionals, the public guardian, educational rights holders, education providers, and social services agencies, to the dismissal hearing to discuss any services that may be available to the minor after jurisdiction is terminated. If appropriate, the court shall refer the minor for evaluation pursuant to Article 6 (commencing with Section 5300) of Chapter 2 of Part 1 of Division 5 or Article 3 (commencing with Section 6550) of Chapter 2 of Part 2 of Division 6.
(5) (A)   Secure confinement shall not extend beyond six months from the finding of incompetence, except as provided in this section. In making that determination, the court shall consider all of the following:
(i) Where the minor will have the best chance of obtaining competence.
(ii) Whether the placement is the least restrictive setting appropriate for the minor.
(iii) Whether alternatives to secure confinement have been identified and pursued and why alternatives are not available or appropriate.
(iv) Whether the placement is necessary for the safety of the minor or others.
(B) If the court determines, upon consideration of these factors, that it is in the best interests of the minor and the public’s safety for the minor to remain in secure confinement, the court shall state the reasons on the record.
(C) Only in cases where the petition involves an offense listed in subdivision (b) of Section 707 may the court consider whether it is necessary and in the best interests of the minor and the public’s safety to order secure confinement of a minor for up to an additional year, not to exceed 18 months from the finding of incompetence.
(i) The presiding judge of the juvenile court, the probation department, the county mental health department, the public defender and any other entity that provides representation for minors, the district attorney, the regional center, if appropriate, and any other participants that the presiding judge shall designate, shall develop a written protocol describing the competency process and a program to ensure that minors who are found incompetent receive appropriate remediation services.

SEC. 3.

 Section 712 of the Welfare and Institutions Code is amended to read:

712.
 (a) The evaluation ordered by the court under Section 711 shall be made, in accordance with the provisions of Section 741 and Division 4.5 (commencing with Section 4500), by either of the following, as applicable:
(1) For minors suspected to be developmentally disabled, by the director of a regional center or his or her designee, pursuant to paragraph (7) of subdivision (b) of Section 709.
(2) For all other minors, by an appropriate and licensed mental health professional who meets one or more of the following criteria:
(A) The person is licensed to practice medicine in the State of California and is trained and actively engaged in the practice of psychiatry.
(B) The person is licensed as a psychologist under Chapter 6.6 (commencing with Section 2900) of Division 2 of the Business and Professions Code.
(b) The evaluator selected by the court shall personally examine the minor, conduct appropriate psychological or mental health screening, assessment, or testing, according to a uniform protocol developed by the county mental health department, and prepare and submit to the court a written report indicating his or her findings and recommendations to guide the court in determining whether the minor has a serious mental disorder or is seriously emotionally disturbed, as described in Section 5600.3. If the minor is detained, the examination shall occur within three court days of the court’s order of referral for evaluation, and the evaluator’s report shall be submitted to the court not later than five court days after the evaluator has personally examined the minor, unless the submission date is extended by the court for good cause shown.
(c) Based on the written report by the evaluator or the regional center, the court shall determine whether the minor has a serious mental disorder or is seriously emotionally disturbed, as described in Section 5600.3, or has a developmental disability, as defined in Section 4512. If the court determines that the minor has a serious mental disorder, is seriously emotionally disturbed, or has a developmental disability, the case shall proceed as described in Section 713. If the court determines that the minor does not have a serious mental disorder, is not seriously emotionally disturbed, or does not have a developmental disability, the matter shall proceed without the application of Section 713 and in accordance with all other applicable provisions of law.
(d) This section shall not be construed to interfere with the legal authority of the juvenile court or of any other public or private agency or individual to refer a minor for mental health evaluation or treatment as provided in Section 370, 635.1, 704, 741, 5150, 5694.7, 5699.2, 5867.5, or 6551 of this code, or in Section 4011.6 of the Penal Code.

SEC. 4.

 To the extent that this act has an overall effect of increasing certain costs already borne by a local agency for programs or levels of service mandated by the 2011 Realignment Legislation within the meaning of Section 36 of Article XIII of the California Constitution, it shall apply to local agencies only to the extent that the state provides annual funding for the cost increase. Any new program or higher level of service provided by a local agency pursuant to this act above the level for which funding has been provided shall not require a subvention of funds by the state or otherwise be subject to Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution.
However, if the Commission on State Mandates determines that this act contains other costs mandated by the state, reimbursement to local agencies and school districts for those costs shall be made pursuant to Part 7 (commencing with Section 17500) of Division 4 of Title 2 of the Government Code.