May 4, 2023 – In re F.M. (Supreme Ct., S270907)

The Supreme Court finds that the juvenile court erred by failing to expressly designate the minor’s wobbler offense as a misdemeanor or felony (WIC 702). The court rejects the argument that the issue was forfeited, explaining that the forfeiture rule should not be applied to WIC 702 errors, as most such errors arise from the juvenile court not understanding its statutory duty to act. The court also rejects the argument that harmlessness should be assessed under Watson, holding instead that remand is required “unless the record as a whole establishes that the juvenile court was aware of, and exercised its discretion” under the statute.