By a MetNews Staff Writer
The county Probation Department is obliged to pay for a treatment program in which a person adjudged to be a juvenile delinquent is obliged to enroll under a court order, irrespective of the ability of the minor or the parent to undertake the expense, Div. Five of the First District Court of Appeal decided yesterday.
Justice Gordon B. Burns wrote the opinion. It reverses an order by Costa County Superior Court Judge Leslie G. Landau denying a motion by “M.W.” to have the county undertake the expense of a M. 52-week “Batterer’s Intervention Program.”
M.W. had been ordered to complete the program, as a condition of probation, after a petition pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code §602 was sustained, declaring him to be a award of the Juvenile Court. The adjudication was based on his admission of violating Penal Code §273.5(a), having willfully inflicted “corporal injury resulting in a traumatic condition upon a victim.” At age 17, he beat up his girlfriend.
Ability-to-Pay Hearing Offered
Landau offered to accord M.W. and his mother a hearing for the purpose of establishing their inability to pay for the program. That Burns said, misses the point.
“[I]t makes no difference that the juvenile court is willing to hold a hearing on M.W.’s ability to pay,” he wrote. “…[B]ecause there is no statutory authority for imposing the cost of M.W.’s treatment on him or his family, he has no duty to request such a hearing.”
He went on to say:
“[B]oth the juvenile court and the People have assumed, incorrectly, that authority to impose these costs on M.W. and his family exists somewhere, and M.W. must identify a statute that relieves them of liability. That puts the cart ahead of the horse. A court may not impose liability on a minor’s parents unless authorized by statute.”
The jurist added:
“The People cite no authority to support an order imposing the costs of the Batterer’s Intervention Program on M.W. or his family, and we have found none.”
The case is In re M.W., A160776.
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