If you’ve ever been arrested, you know how traumatic it can be. But what if you were a child? How would you withstand being handcuffed, funneled through mysterious proceedings and sent away for “rehabilitation” behind razor-wire fences?
In 2009, there were 204,696 juvenile arrests in California.1 Juvenile charges were filed in about half of those cases. The system got 60,891 new “wards of the court.”
Over 18,000 minors were placed in a secure facility or in the California Youth Authority. As a result of “get tough on juvenile crime” initiatives, 1,115 minors were sent to adult court to be tried as adults.2
Even those children lucky enough to be sent “home on probation” now need to contend with the stigma and lasting repercussions of having a juvenile criminal record.
But here’s the good news: there are many options within the California juvenile court justice system that do not involve confinement. If your child has a run-in with the law, we might be able to help.
As former district attorneys who once prosecuted juveniles, we now use our inside knowledge to represent them. Our California Juvenile Criminal Defense Attorneys want to keep your child out of custody and help get your child’s life back on track.3
In this article, we provide a comprehensive overview of the juvenile court justice system in California. We cover:
- 1. What is juvenile delinquency court?
- 2. Who gets tried in juvenile court?
- 3. What is the juvenile court process?
- 4. What could happen to my child?
- 5. What are the lasting consequences of a juvenile adjudication?
If you have further questions after reading this article, we invite you to contact us at Shouse Law Group for a consultation.
1. What is juvenile delinquency court?
Juvenile delinquency court is a court dedicated to adjudicating felony and misdemeanor crimes allegedly committed by minors. Juvenile court also handles “status offenses” like truancy and curfew violations. Status offenses only constitute criminal acts when committed by juveniles.
The Juvenile Division of the Los Angeles Superior Court oversees juvenile delinquency court as well as informal juvenile court (which deals with infraction and low-level misdemeanors) and juvenile dependency court (which deals with abused, neglected and abandoned children). Note that Los Angeles prosecutors try to avoid pressing juvenile charges and instead try to divert youth to community programs to help them.4
Juvenile Court’s jurisdiction is over minors age 12 to 17 and certain minors under 12.
This article deals with juvenile delinquency court. When we use the term “juvenile court” we are referring to juvenile delinquency court.
You can visit our page California Delinquency and Dependency Courts for more information on the differences between delinquency and dependency court.
Technically, juvenile court is not part of the California criminal law system. It is part of the civil law system where cases are “adjudicated.”
Juvenile delinquency proceedings are sometimes referred to as “Section 602 proceedings” after the applicable section of California law that governs delinquency proceedings.5
Judges hear cases in juvenile court. There are prosecutors and defense attorneys, but no juries. Juvenile court proceedings are generally confidential.
On September 30, 2018, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law SB 439. This bill only allows the court to assume jurisdiction over a minor under 12 years old, if that child is charged with murder or rape, sodomy, oral copulation, or sexual penetration by force, violence, or threat of great bodily harm. Otherwise, kids under 12 do not get tried in juvenile court.
Juvenile court lingo
The judge does not find a minor “guilty” or “innocent” in the California juvenile court system. Instead, if the judge finds that the minor committed the crime alleged beyond a reasonable doubt, the judge “sustains the petition” filed by the district attorney.
There are a number of different “dispositions” (sentences) available in juvenile court. At the low end of the spectrum is informal probation. The minor never admits any allegations of wrongdoing and the charges are dismissed upon successful completion of the program.
At the other end of the spectrum is commitment to the California Youth Authority (“CYA”), California’s “prison” for minors. CYA is now called the Division of Juvenile Justice and housed within the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Most people still think of CYA as “CYA,” so we use the term CYA in this article.
Wards of the court
When the judge makes a minor a “ward of the court” it means that the court is taking over primary responsibility for control and treatment of the minor. A minor can be a ward of the court but still allowed to serve out probation at home.
In other cases, the minor might be placed in foster care, in a group home or in a county probation camp.
1.1. Goal of rehabilitation
In theory, the California juvenile justice system is designed to “rehabilitate” offenders. This is an important philosophical difference from the adult system.
When an adult is convicted of a crime and sentenced to jail or prison, the purpose is to punish the offender. But when a minor is placed on probation, or committed to camp or DJJ, the purpose is to rehabilitate the minor.
Kids in the juvenile court justice system are supposed to get the education, treatment and services they need to move past their crimes, reunite with their families and become productive citizens.
1.2. Sanctions are not designed for retribution
Just because the goal of the California juvenile court system is rehabilitation, that does not mean a child who disobeys the law gets off without punishment. The minor can be “sanctioned” for impermissible conduct but the sanctions are designed for discipline and not retribution.6
Sanctions can include:
- Payment of a fine and/or restitution
- Community service
- Attendance in victim impact class
- Placement in a foster home
- Probation/parole conditions
- Commitment to a juvenile hall, camp, or ranch
- Commitment to CYA
1.3. Problems with the juvenile justice system
Regardless of its noble objectives, the juvenile court justice system in California has received extensive criticism for its failures. In a highly-publicized 2003 lawsuit called Farrell v. Allen, the state was sued for deplorable conditions at the California Youth Authority, including:
- excessive use of force, like using mace on children while already restrained,
- making kids attend “school” while locked in cages,
- confining children in cells for 23 hours a day,
- failing to provide children with adequate medical and mental health services,
- utilizing psychotropic medications as a form of control, and
- perpetuating a culture riddled with extreme, often gang-related violence.7
In 2004, CYA entered into a consent decree agreeing to remedy the abuses. A special master appointed by the Alameda County Superior Court now oversees CYA.
“Realignment” from the state to the counties
As a result of systemic failures brought to light by litigation, and the high cost of state-level confinement, the California legislature passed Senate Bill 81 in 2007 to “realign” juvenile justice from the state level to the county level.8
Through a series of funding initiatives and changes in the law, all but the most serious and violent youth offenders are now handled within county probation departments. Less than one percent of youth offenders are committed to CYA.
But county-level providers have come under scrutiny just like CYA. The Los Angeles County Probation Department is currently in settlement negotiations over alleged deficient educational services provided to the children housed at the county’s largest camp, the Challenger Memorial Youth Center in Lancaster.
Riots and other violence periodically break out at probation camps for both boys and girls.
Rays of hope
Of course the system has many caring and devoted professionals dedicated to the mission of rehabilitation. Rays of hope emerge from CYA just as they do from county facilities.
As part of CYA’s Pups and Wards program, for example, children “rehabilitate” themselves while training rescue dogs for adoptive families. At Sonoma County’s rustic and fenceless probation camp, minors who have been unsuccessful elsewhere build self-esteem while constructing redwood picnic tables and fire pits.
2. Who gets tried in juvenile court?
Generally speaking, minors under the age of 18 are tried in the California juvenile court system. But there are cases in which younger minors can be tried in adult court.
2.1 Minors under 18 generally go to juvenile court
Pursuant to California Welfare & Institutions Code Section 602 WIC, juvenile court has jurisdiction over offenses allegedly committed by minors who are under the age of 18 at the time of the offense.9
If someone commits a crime at age 17 but it is not discovered or tried until the minor is 20, the minor can still be tried in juvenile court.
2.2. Some minors go to adult court
- the degree of criminal sophistication exhibited by the minor,
- whether the minor can be rehabilitated prior to the expiration of juvenile court jurisdiction,
- the minor’s previous delinquent history,
- the success of any previous attempts to rehabilitate the minor, and
- the circumstances and gravity of the offenses alleged in the petition.
Juveniles under 16 do not get tried in adult court.
2.3. For “707(b) offenses” minors can be tried as adults
Under certain circumstances described below, minors aged 16 and older alleged to have committed one of the 30 crimes listed in W&I Code 707(b) also can be tried in adult court.
The “Section 707(b) offenses” are:
- Arson causing great bodily injury or of an inhabited structure.
- Rape with force, violence or threat of great bodily harm.
- Sodomy by force, violence or threat of great bodily harm.
- A lewd or lascivious act on a child under 14 with force, violence or threat of great bodily harm.
- Oral copulation by force, violence or threat of great bodily harm.
- Forcible sexual penetration.
- Kidnapping for ransom.
- Kidnapping for purposes of robbery.
- Kidnapping with bodily harm.
- Attempted murder.
- Assault with a firearm or destructive device.
- Assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury.
- Discharge of a firearm into an inhabited or occupied building.
- An offense described in Section 1203.09 of the Penal Code against a person who is over 60 or disabled.
- An offense described in Penal Code Section 12022.5 or Penal Code 12022.53 pc personal use of a firearm.
- A felony offense in which the minor personally used a weapon listed Penal Code Section 16590(a).
- A felony offense described in Penal Code 136.1 pc dissuading a witness or Penal Code Section 137 bribery of a witness.
- Manufacturing, compounding, or selling one-half ounce or more of a salt or solution of a controlled substance specified in Health & Safety 11055(e).
- A violent felony, which also would constitute a felony violation of Penal Code 186.22(b) criminal street gang sentencing enhancement.
- Escape, by the use of force or violence, from a county juvenile hall, home, ranch, camp, or forestry camp if great bodily injury is intentionally inflicted upon an employee of the juvenile facility.
- Aggravated mayhem.
- Kidnapping for purposes of sexual assault.
- Kidnapping during a carjacking.
- Penal Code Section 26100 pc drive-by-shooting.
- Exploding a destructive device with intent to commit murder.
- Voluntary manslaughter.10
2.4. Transfer hearings
Prosecutors have the discretion to initiate a “transfer hearing” and have a judge decide whether the minor should be charged as an adult.
Please see our related article Transfer Hearings in California for a more in-depth explanation of that subject.
2.5. Termination of jurisdiction
Juvenile court jurisdiction terminates when the ward reaches the age of 21.
In cases where the minor committed a 707(b) offense and was committed to CYA, jurisdiction can last until the minor is 25 years old or older.11
3. What is the juvenile court process?
The California juvenile court process begins with the arrest of a minor. Things may end right there, as the cops can decide to release the minor with a simple reprimand.
However, the cops also can deliver the minor to the county probation department, which may lead to detention at juvenile hall and filing of a “petition” against the minor. A petition is like a criminal complaint filed in adult court.
As we describe in our related article The Juvenile Court Process in California, the process consists of several different hearings, including:
- detention hearing (for minors in custody)
- arraignment (for minors out of custody)
- transfer hearing (in cases of 707(b) offenses)
- jurisdiction hearing (the trial)
- disposition hearing (for sentencing)
The law provides timelines and procedures for when and how each of these hearings takes place.
At each stage, the prosecutor and defense attorney may reach a resolution and go straight to disposition. Also, if errors are made, there may be one or more re-hearings.
Parents are entitled to attend each court hearing.
4. What could happen to my child?
A number of different sentencing options (called “dispositions”) are available in the California juvenile delinquency system. They range from informal probation to commitment to CYA.
4.1. Informal probation
When a case is not very serious, the minor might be eligible for informal probation and diversion under Welfare & Institutions Code 654 or W&I Sec. 725.
W&I Sec. 654 diversion
Under California Welfare & Institutions Code Section 654, the case is “diverted” to probation before a petition filing takes place.12
In an effort to “adjust the situation which brings the minor within the jurisdiction of the court or creates the probability that the minor will soon be within that jurisdiction,” the probation officer will develop a plan for the minor that can last no longer than six months.
The program generally includes education and counseling.
If the minor fails to perform, the probation officer can still initiate formal petition proceedings with the juvenile court.
W&I Sec. 725 informal probation
The judge makes the decision to place the minor on informal probation.13 The difference from W&I Sec. 654 informal probation is that a petition is actually filed…but the petition is “put on hold”…so the minor gets a second chance.
The minor never admits guilt and so long as the minor complies with the probation conditions the petition gets dismissed.
Probation conditions generally include school attendance, counseling for both the minor and his or her parents and curfew.14 Other possible conditions are drug testing and restitution.
For more discussion, please see our article on juvenile drug possession in California.
W&I Section 725 informal probation lasts for six months.
4.2. Deferred entry of judgment
Another option is deferred entry of judgment under Welfare & Institutions Code 790.15 Deferred entry of judgment (or “DEJ” for short) requires the minor admit guilt as to the petition’s allegations, but results in a dismissal of the charges upon successful completion of the DEJ program.
DEJ is available for first-time felonies that are not Section 707(b) offenses. It lasts between 12 and 36 months.
Example: Seventeen-year-old Martha is caught in a car with marijuana hidden in the gas tank. Martha is charged with felony Health and Safety 11359 hs possession of marijuana for sale and Health and Safety 11360 hs transporting marijuana. This is Martha’s first criminal offense.
Martha experienced truancy problems in the past but lately has been doing well in a new educational program. She has a stable home life. The probation department believes Martha is amenable to education, treatment and rehabilitation.
Even though Martha’s crime evidences a degree of sophistication, and courts don’t want to send the message that offenses like Health and Safety 11359 hs and Health and Safety 11360 hs transporting marijuana are permissible, Martha is eligible for DEJ.
If she successfully completes her DEJ program, Martha can withdraw her admission of guilt and the petition will be dismissed.16
4.3. Formal probation at home or camp
If a California juvenile court declares the minor to be a ward of the court, the court can sentence the minor to a term of probation. Sometimes wards can complete their probation at home (even though they are wards of the court).
In other cases, the court will assign the ward to a “suitable placement” in a relative’s home or in a group home.17 This includes level 14 group homes for emotionally disturbed minors.
Probation terms can include anything reasonably necessary for the rehabilitation of the minor, including:
- mandatory school attendance,
- curfew restrictions,
- substance abuse counseling,
- not hanging out with certain people,
- community service,
- graffiti removal, and
Minors needing a greater level of structure can be sent to “probation camp” for a period of between three months and one year.18
There are approximately 70 probation camps across the state. Most camps are dormitory-based environments with a structured daily schedule involving education and treatment programs.
A handful of other kinds of probation camps also exist in California, including “wilderness/fire camps,” which emphasize forestry and firefighting training, military-style “boot camps” and family-style “Missouri-model” camps, which focus on small-scale, intensive treatment.19
The Los Angeles County Probation Department’s Juvenile Residential Treatment Services Bureau houses approximately 2,000 wards per day in its various camps.
The County Probation Department’s Juvenile Detention Services Bureau houses an additional 1,500 to 1,800 minors per day who are awaiting hearings or placement.
4.4. CYA commitment
Aside from adult prison, the most serious penalty a minor can face is a commitment at CYA.
Only minors whose most recent adjudication is for a 707(b) offense or one of several offenses requiring sex offender registration in California can be sent to CYA.20
5. What are the lasting consequences of a juvenile adjudication?
Unfortunately, a juvenile adjudication can follow a child into the future.
Juvenile convictions (or “sustained petitions” as they’re formally called) count as strikes for purposes of California’s Three Strikes Law. Further, the California Rules of Court allow adult courts to look at juvenile adjudications in making probation and sentencing decisions.21
Juvenile adjudications can lead to sex offender registration in California and even civil confinement as a sexually violent predator “SVP” in California.
However, in cases of less serious juvenile convictions, your child may be able to seal his or her juvenile record if your child fulfills his or her sentence and remains crime-free for a certain period of time.
Our California Juvenile Criminal Defense Attorneys Can Help…
If your child has been arrested, we invite you to call us at Shouse Law Group for a consultation.
We also have pages dedicated to the various juvenile halls, such as Eastlake Juvenile Hall, Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall and Barry Nidorf/Sylmar Juvenile Hall.
Call us for help
We can provide a free consultation in the office or by phone. We have local offices in Los Angeles, the San Fernando Valley, Pasadena, Long Beach, Orange County, Ventura, San Bernardino, Rancho Cucamonga, Riverside, San Diego, Sacramento, Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose and throughout California.
For information about Nevada juvenile crimes, go to our page on Nevada juvenile crimes. Also see our related article on public school suspensions and expulsions (EC 48900).
Ella Baker Center Books Not Bars Campaign
- California Department of Justice, Juvenile Arrest Statistics, 2009.
- Juvenile Justice in California, California Department of Justice, Criminal Justice Statistics Center, 2009, pp iv-v.
- Our California Juvenile Criminal Defense Attorneys have local Los Angeles law offices in Beverly Hills, Burbank, Glendale, Lancaster, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Pasadena, Pomona, Torrance, Van Nuys, West Covina and Whittier. We have additional law offices conveniently located throughout the state in Orange County, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, San Jose, Oakland, the San Francisco Bay area, and several nearby cities.
- California Welfare & Institutions Code Section 256 provides: “Subject to the orders of the juvenile court, a juvenile hearing officer may hear and dispose of any case in which a minor under the age of 18 years as of the date of the alleged offense is charged with (1) any violation of the Vehicle Code, except Section 23136, 23140, 23152, or 23153 of that code, not declared to be a felony, (2) a violation of subdivision (m) of Section 602 of the Penal Code, (3) a violation of the Fish and Game Code not declared to be a felony, (4) a violation of any of the equipment provisions of the Harbors and Navigation Code or the vessel registration provisions of the Vehicle Code, (5) a violation of any provision of state or local law relating to traffic offenses, loitering or curfew, or evasion of fares on a public transportation system, as defined by Section 99211 of the Public Utilities Code, (6) a violation of Section 27176 of the Streets and Highways Code, (7) a violation of Section 640 or 640a of the Penal Code, (8) a violation of the rules and regulations established pursuant to Sections 5003 and 5008 of the Public Resources Code, (9) a violation of Section 33211.6 of the Public Resources Code, (10) a violation of Section 25658, 25658.5, 25661, or 25662 of the Business and Professions Code, (11) a violation of subdivision (f) of Section 647 of the Penal Code, (12) a misdemeanor violation of Section 594 of the Penal Code, involving defacing property with paint or any other liquid, (13) a violation of subdivision (b), (d), or (e) of Section 594.1 of the Penal Code, (14) a violation of subdivision (b) of Section 11357 of the Health and Safety Code, (15) any infraction, or (16) any misdemeanor for which the minor is cited to appear by a probation officer pursuant to subdivision (f) of Section 660.5.” LADA Special Directive 20-09.
- California Welfare & Institutions Code Section 602 provides: Except as provided in Section 707, any person who is under 18 years of age when he or she violates any law of this state or of the United States or any ordinance of any city or county of this state defining crime other than an ordinance establishing a curfew based solely on age, is within the jurisdiction of the juvenile court, which may adjudge such person to be a ward of the court.
- California Welfare & Institutions Code Section 202 provides: “(a) The purpose of this chapter is to provide for the protection and safety of the public and each minor under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court and to preserve and strengthen the minor’s family ties whenever possible, removing the minor from the custody of his or her parents only when necessary for his or her welfare or for the safety and protection of the public. If removal of a minor is determined by the juvenile court to be necessary, reunification of the minor with his or her family shall be a primary objective. If the minor is removed from his or her own family, it is the purpose of this chapter to secure for the minor custody, care, and discipline as nearly as possible equivalent to that which should have been given by his or her parents. This chapter shall be liberally construed to carry out these purposes. (b) Minors under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court who are in need of protective services shall receive care, treatment, and guidance consistent with their best interest and the best interest of the public. Minors under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court as a consequence of delinquent conduct shall, in conformity with the interests of public safety and protection, receive care, treatment, and guidance that is consistent with their best interest, that holds them accountable for their behavior, and that is appropriate for their circumstances. This guidance may include punishment that is consistent with the rehabilitative objectives of this chapter. If a minor has been removed from the custody of his or her parents, family preservation and family reunification are appropriate goals for the juvenile court to consider when determining the disposition of a minor under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court as a consequence of delinquent conduct when those goals are consistent with his or her best interests and the best interests of the public. When the minor is no longer a ward of the juvenile court, the guidance he or she received should enable him or her to be a law-abiding and productive member of his or her family and the community….(e) As used in this chapter, ‘punishment’ means the imposition of sanctions. It does not include retribution and shall not include a court order to place a child in foster care as defined by Section 727.3. Permissible sanctions may include any of the following: (1) Payment of a fine by the minor. (2) Rendering of compulsory service without compensation performed for the benefit of the community by the minor. (3) Limitations on the minor’s liberty imposed as a condition of probation or parole. (4) Commitment of the minor to a local detention or treatment facility, such as a juvenile hall, camp, or ranch. (5) Commitment of the minor to the Division of Juvenile Facilities, Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. (f) In addition to the actions authorized by subdivision (e), the juvenile court may, as appropriate, direct the offender to complete a victim impact class, participate in victim offender conferencing subject to the victim’s consent, pay restitution to the victim or victims, and make a contribution to the victim restitution fund after all victim restitution orders and fines have been satisfied, in order to hold the offender accountable or restore the victim or community.”
- Farrell v. Harper, Amended Complaint for Injunctive and Declaratory Relief, No. RG03079344, Alameda Superior Court, September 17, 2003.
- Juvenile Justice at a Crossroads: The Future of Senate Bill 81 in California, by Noor Dawood, Prison Law Office, January 2009, Executive Summary, p. i. (“As reform efforts have progressed, the already immense costs of housing youth in DJJ institutions have risen dramatically, amounting to approximately $226,000 per ward in the 2007-2008 fiscal year. This unsustainable financial burden ultimately drove the state to pursue the ‘realignment’ of juvenile justice through SB 81-a shift conveniently in sync with juvenile justice advocates’ longtime call to downsize the DJJ for rehabilitative purposes…. The new law stands above previous attempts to curb state juvenile justice admissions in that it couples the new restrictions with a meaningful investment in local juvenile justice capacity. To support counties’ expanded role, SB 81 establishes the Youthful Offender Block Grant (YOBG), a new annual state grant valued at $93 million at full maturity. Additionally, $100 million in lease revenue bonds will be made available to counties for costs related to the construction or enhancement of ‘local youthful offender rehabilitative facilities.'”)
- See footnote 5, supra.
- California Welfare & Institutions Code Section 707(b) provides: “Subdivision (c) shall be applicable in any case in which a minor is alleged to be a person described in Section 602 by reason of the violation of one of the following offenses: (1) Murder. (2) Arson, as provided in subdivision (a) or (b) of Section 451 of the Penal Code. (3) Robbery. (4) Rape with force, violence, or threat of great bodily harm. (5) Sodomy by force, violence, duress, menace, or threat of great bodily harm. (6) A lewd or lascivious act as provided in subdivision (b) of Section 288 of the Penal Code. (7) Oral copulation by force, violence, duress, menace, or threat of great bodily harm. (8) An offense specified in subdivision (a) of Section 289 of the Penal Code. (9) Kidnapping for ransom. (10) Kidnapping for purposes of robbery. (11) Kidnapping with bodily harm. (12) Attempted murder. (13) Assault with a firearm or destructive device. (14) Assault by any means of force likely to produce great bodily injury. (15) Discharge of a firearm into an inhabited or occupied building. (16) An offense described in Section 1203.09 of the Penal Code. (17) An offense described in Section 12022.5 or 12022.53 of the Penal Code. (18) A felony offense in which the minor personally used a weapon described in any provision listed in Section 16590 of the Penal Code. (19) A felony offense described in Section 136.1 or 137 of the Penal Code. (20) Manufacturing, compounding, or selling one-half ounce or more of a salt or solution of a controlled substance specified in subdivision (e) of Section 11055 of the Health and Safety Code. (21) A violent felony, as defined in subdivision (c) of Section 667.5 of the Penal Code, which also would constitute a felony violation of subdivision (b) of Section 186.22 of the Penal Code. (22) Escape, by the use of force or violence, from a county juvenile hall, home, ranch, camp, or forestry camp in violation of subdivision (b) of Section 871 if great bodily injury is intentionally inflicted upon an employee of the juvenile facility during the commission of the escape. (23) Torture as described in Sections 206 and 206.1 of the Penal Code. (24) Aggravated mayhem, as described in Section 205 of the Penal Code. (25) Carjacking, as described in Section 215 of the Penal Code, while armed with a dangerous or deadly weapon. (26) Kidnapping for purposes of sexual assault, as punishable in subdivision (b) of Section 209 of the Penal Code. (27) Kidnapping as punishable in Section 209.5 of the Penal Code. (28) The offense described in subdivision (c) of Section 26100 of the Penal Code. (29) The offense described in Section 18745 of the Penal Code. (30) Voluntary manslaughter, as described in subdivision (a) of Section 192 of the Penal Code.”
- California Welfare & Institutions Code Section 607. SB 135 (2023).
- California Welfare & Institutions Code Section 654 provides: “In any case in which a probation officer, after investigation of an application for a petition or any other investigation he or she is authorized to make concludes that a minor is within the jurisdiction of the juvenile court or will probably soon be within that jurisdiction, the probation officer may, in lieu of filing a petition to declare a minor a dependent child of the court or a minor or a ward of the court under Section 601 or requesting that a petition be filed by the prosecuting attorney to declare a minor a ward of the court under subdivision (e) of Section 601.3 or Section 602 and with consent of the minor and the minor’s parent or guardian, delineate specific programs of supervision for the minor, for not to exceed six months, and attempt thereby to adjust the situation which brings the minor within the jurisdiction of the court or creates the probability that the minor will soon be within that jurisdiction. Nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent the probation officer from filing a petition or requesting the prosecuting attorney to file a petition at any time within the six-month period or a 90-day period thereafter. If the probation officer determines that the minor has not involved himself or herself in the specific programs within 60 days, the probation officer shall immediately file a petition or request that a petition be filed by the prosecuting attorney. However, when in the judgment of the probation officer the interest of the minor and the community can be protected, the probation officer shall make a diligent effort to proceed under this section. The program of supervision of the minor undertaken pursuant to this section may call for the minor to obtain care and treatment for the misuse of or addiction to controlled substances from a county mental health service or other appropriate community agency. The program of supervision shall require the parents or guardians of the minor to participate with the minor in counseling or education programs, including, but not limited to, parent education and parenting programs operated by community colleges, school districts, or other appropriate agencies designated by the court if the program of supervision is pursuant to the procedure prescribed in Section 654.2. Further, this section shall authorize the probation officer with consent of the minor and the minor’s parent or guardian to provide the following services in lieu of filing a petition: (a) Maintain and operate sheltered-care facilities, or contract with private or public agencies to provide these services. The placement shall be limited to a maximum of 90 days. Counseling services shall be extended to the sheltered minor and his or her family during this period of diversion services. The minor and his or her parents may be required to make full or partial reimbursement for the services rendered the minor and his or her family during the diversion process. Referrals for sheltered-care diversion may be made by the minor, his or her family, schools, any law enforcement agency, or any other private or public social service agency. (b) Maintain and operate crisis resolution homes, or contract with private or public agencies offering these services. Residence at these facilities shall be limited to 20 days during which period individual and family counseling shall be extended the minor and his or her family. Failure to resolve the crisis within the 20-day period may result in the minor’s referral to a sheltered-care facility for a period not to exceed 90 days. Referrals shall be accepted from the minor, his or her family, schools, law enforcement or any other private or public social service agency. The minor, his or her parents, or both, may be required to reimburse the county for the cost of services rendered at a rate to be determined by the county board of supervisors. (c) Maintain and operate counseling and educational centers, or contract with private and public agencies, societies, or corporations whose purpose is to provide vocational training or skills. The centers may be operated separately or in conjunction with crisis resolution homes to be operated by the probation officer. The probation officer shall be authorized to make referrals to the appropriate existing private or public agencies offering similar services when available. At the conclusion of the program of supervision undertaken pursuant to this section, the probation officer shall prepare and maintain a followup report of the actual program measures taken.”
- California Welfare & Institutions Code Section 725 provides: “After receiving and considering the evidence on the proper disposition of the case, the court may enter judgment as follows: (a) If the court has found that the minor is a person described by Section 601 or 602, by reason of the commission of an offense other than any of the offenses set forth in Section 654.3, it may, without adjudging the minor a ward of the court, place the minor on probation, under the supervision of the probation officer, for a period not to exceed six months. The minor’s probation shall include the conditions required in Section 729.2 except in any case in which the court makes a finding and states on the record its reasons that any of those conditions would be inappropriate. If the offense involved the unlawful possession, use, or furnishing of a controlled substance, as defined in Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 11053) of Division 10 of the Health and Safety Code, a violation of subdivision (f) of Section 647 of the Penal Code, or a violation of Section 25662 of the Business and Professions Code, the minor’s probation shall include the conditions required by Section 729.10. If the minor fails to comply with the conditions of probation imposed, the court may order and adjudge the minor to be a ward of the court. (b) If the court has found that the minor is a person described by Section 601 or 602, it may order and adjudge the minor to be a ward of the court.”
- California Welfare & Institutions Code Section 729.2 provides: “If a minor is found to be a person described in Section 601 or 602 and the court does not remove the minor from the physical custody of the parent or guardian, the court as a condition of probation, except in any case in which the court makes a finding and states on the record its reasons that that condition would be inappropriate, shall: (a) Require the minor to attend a school program approved by the probation officer without absence. (b) Require the parents or guardian of the minor to participate with the minor in a counseling or education program, including, but not limited to, parent education and parenting programs operated by community colleges, school districts, or other appropriate agencies designated by the court or the probation department, unless the minor has been declared a dependent child of the court pursuant to Section 300 or a petition to declare the minor a dependent child of the court pursuant to Section 300 is pending. (c) Require the minor to be at his or her legal residence between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. unless the minor is accompanied by his or her parent or parents, legal guardian or other adult person having the legal care or custody of the minor.”
- California Welfare & Institutions Code Section 790 provides: “(a) Notwithstanding Section 654 or 654.2, or any other provision of law, this article shall apply whenever a case is before the juvenile court for a determination of whether a minor is a person described in Section 602 because of the commission of a felony offense, if all of the following circumstances apply: (1) The minor has not previously been declared to be a ward of the court for the commission of a felony offense. (2) The offense charged is not one of the offenses enumerated in subdivision (b) of Section 707. (3) The minor has not previously been committed to the custody of the Youth Authority. (4) The minor’s record does not indicate that probation has ever been revoked without being completed. (5) The minor is at least 14 years of age at the time of the hearing. (6) The minor is eligible for probation pursuant to Section 1203.06 of the Penal Code. (b) The prosecuting attorney shall review his or her file to determine whether or not paragraphs (1) to (6), inclusive, of subdivision (a) apply. If the minor is found eligible for deferred entry of judgment, the prosecuting attorney shall file a declaration in writing with the court or state for the record the grounds upon which the determination is based, and shall make this information available to the minor and his or her attorney. Upon a finding that the minor is also suitable for deferred entry of judgment and would benefit from education, treatment, and rehabilitation efforts, the court may grant deferred entry of judgment. Under this procedure, the court may set the hearing for deferred entry of judgment at the initial appearance under Section 657. The court shall make findings on the record that a minor is appropriate for deferred entry of judgment pursuant to this article in any case where deferred entry of judgment is granted.”
- Martha C. v. Superior Court, 108 Cal.App.4th 556, 562 (2003) (“In this case, the probation department concluded Martha would benefit from education, treatment and rehabilitation. The trial court’s remarks suggest it agreed. The court, however, denied DEJ because it wished to send a message to other potential juvenile drug smugglers that there would be permanent consequences flowing from such criminal activity. This was not an appropriate basis for denying DEJ since it had nothing to do with Martha’s potential for rehabilitation. While a court might find that the circumstances of a crime indicate a minor is not amenable to rehabilitation (see generally In re Sergio R., supra, 106 Cal.App.4th at p. 607), and on that basis deny DEJ, it may not do so as a means of deterring criminal activity by others.”)
- California Welfare & Institutions Code Section 727 provides: “(a) When a minor is adjudged a ward of the court on the ground that he or she is a person described by Section 601 or 602, the court may make any and all reasonable orders for the care, supervision, custody, conduct, maintenance, and support of the minor, including medical treatment, subject to further order of the court…. In the discretion of the court, a ward may be ordered to be on probation without supervision of the probation officer. The court, in so ordering, may impose on the ward any and all reasonable conditions of behavior as may be appropriate under this disposition. A minor who has been adjudged a ward of the court on the basis of the commission of any of the offenses described in subdivision (b) or paragraph (2) of subdivision (d) of Section 707, Section 459 of the Penal Code, or subdivision (a) of Section 11350 of the Health and Safety Code, shall not be eligible for probation without supervision of the probation officer. A minor who has been adjudged a ward of the court on the basis of the commission of any offense involving the sale or possession for sale of a controlled substance, except misdemeanor offenses involving marijuana, as specified in Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 11053) of Division 10 of the Health and Safety Code, or of an offense in violation of Section 12220 of the Penal Code, shall be eligible for probation without supervision of the probation officer only when the court determines that the interests of justice would best be served and states reasons on the record for that determination. In all other cases, the court shall order the care, custody, and control of the minor to be under the supervision of the probation officer who may place the minor in any of the following: (1) The approved home of a relative, or the approved home of a nonrelative, extended family member as defined in Section 362.7. When a decision has been made to place the minor in the home of a relative, the court may authorize the relative to give legal consent for the minor’s medical, surgical, and dental care and education as if the relative caretaker were the custodial parent of the minor. (2) A suitable licensed community care facility. (3) With a foster family agency to be placed in a suitable licensed foster family home or certified family home which has been certified by the agency as meeting licensing standards….(b) When a minor has been adjudged a ward of the court on the ground that he or she is a person described in Section 601 or 602 and the court finds that notice has been given in accordance with Section 661, and when the court orders that a parent or guardian shall retain custody of that minor either subject to or without the supervision of the probation officer, the parent or guardian may be required to participate with that minor in a counseling or education program including, but not limited to, parent education and parenting programs operated by community colleges, school districts, or other appropriate agencies designated by the court. (c) The juvenile court may direct any and all reasonable orders to the parents and guardians of the minor who is the subject of any proceedings under this chapter as the court deems necessary and proper to carry out subdivisions (a) and (b), including orders to appear before a county financial evaluation officer and orders directing the parents or guardians to ensure the minor’s regular school attendance and to make reasonable efforts to obtain appropriate educational services necessary to meet the needs of the minor. When counseling or other treatment services are ordered for the minor, the parent, guardian, or foster parent shall be ordered to participate in those services, unless participation by the parent, guardian, or foster parent is deemed by the court to be inappropriate or potentially detrimental to the child.”
- California Welfare & Institutions Code Section 730 provides: “(a) When a minor is adjudged a ward of the court on the ground that he or she is a person described by Section 602, the court may order any of the types of treatment referred to in Section 727, and as an additional alternative, may commit the minor to a juvenile home, ranch, camp, or forestry camp. If there is no county juvenile home, ranch, camp, or forestry camp within the county, the court may commit the minor to the county juvenile hall. (b) When a ward described in subdivision (a) is placed under the supervision of the probation officer or committed to the care, custody, and control of the probation officer, the court may make any and all reasonable orders for the conduct of the ward including the requirement that the ward go to work and earn money for the support of his or her dependents or to effect reparation and in either case that the ward keep an account of his or her earnings and report The court may impose and require any and all reasonable conditions that it may determine fitting and proper to the end that justice may be done and the reformation and rehabilitation of the ward enhanced. (c) When a ward described in subdivision (a) is placed under the supervision of the probation officer or committed to the care, custody, and control of the probation officer, and is required as a condition of probation to participate in community service or graffiti cleanup, the court may impose a condition that if the minor unreasonably fails to attend or unreasonably leaves prior to completing the assigned daily hours of community service or graffiti cleanup, a law enforcement officer may take the minor into custody for the purpose of returning the minor to the site of the community service or graffiti cleanup.”
- County Probation Camps and Ranches for Juvenile Offenders, Marcus Nieto, California Research Bureau, November 2008, p. 13.
- California Welfare & Institutions Code Section 733 provides: “A ward of the juvenile court who meets any condition described below shall not be committed to the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Division of Juvenile Facilities: (a) The ward is under 11 years of age. (b) The ward is suffering from any contagious, infectious, or other disease that would probably endanger the lives or health of the other inmates of any facility. (c) The ward has been or is adjudged a ward of the court pursuant to Section 602, and the most recent offense alleged in any petition and admitted or found to be true by the court is not described in subdivision (b) of Section 707, unless the offense is a sex offense set forth in subdivision (c) of Section 290.008 of the Penal Code. This subdivision shall be effective on and after September 1, 2007.”
- See California Rules of Court 4.414(b) (criteria affecting probation) and 4.421(b) (circumstances in aggravation).