Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Tuesday, October 22, 2019


Page 1


Court of Appeal

Culpability of Youth Is Not Diminished Based on ‘Non-Developed’ Brain


By a MetNews Staff Writer


The Court of Appeal for this district yesterday rejected a theory that a 14-year-old’s delinquency adjudication, to the extent it was based on aiding and abetting an assault with force likely to commit bodily harm was improper because it did not take into account his “non-developed brain.”

Div. Six affirmed an order of wardship in the case of “R.C.” who, in the company of “E.B.,” 15, attempted to rob a 7-11 store. The clerk wrested a BB gun from R.C. and E.B. commenced striking the clerk with a BB gun that he toted, before the pair fled.

Justice Kenneth Yegan was unreceptive to the “non-developed brain” argument—derived from a law review article—which was put forth by a Ventura deputy public defender at the hearing, and advanced by the office on appeal. It was conceded at oral argument that the theory was applicable only to aiding and abetting the assault, not the attempted second degree robbery.

Yegan’s Opinion

Yegan wrote:

“At oral argument appellant drew an analogy to the situation where a defendant is both visually impaired and hearing impaired. Such a defendant’s criminal liability should be measured with these disabilities in mind….[Theoretical] immaturity and ‘non-developed brain’ does not equate with physical disability. Physical disabilities are objectively verifiable. Immaturity and a ‘non-developed brain’ are not objectively verifiable. The analogy is not apt.”

The jurist continued:

“Based on appellant’s construction of the law, the trial court must consider ‘non-developed brain’ and impulsivity in determining aider and abettor liability. This would require significant re-writing of juvenile law. This is not our legitimate function. This novel theory is best addressed to the Legislature. We express no opinion on its wisdom. We agree with the juvenile court that this subjective component goes to the issue of disposition, not adjudication.”

Natural, Probable Consequence

A person aids and abets an offense if it is the “natural and probable consequence” of the crime in which that person participates, Yegan noted. He said:

“It was foreseeable that E.B. would use the pistol as a weapon. Why else would he bring it to the scene of the crime? Substantial evidence supports the finding that E.B.’s assault was a natural and probable consequence of the armed robbery.”

The case is In re R.C., B293846.


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