Welfare and Institutions Code section 725 is the California statute that allows a Juvenile Court judge to place a child on probation, supervised or unsupervised, for up to six months.
In particular WIC 725 states that:
“The court may place the minor on probation, under the supervision of the probation officer, for a period not to exceed six months. 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.”
CONDITIONS OF JUVENILE PROBATION
During the probation period, the child must abide by the terms and conditions of probation that are set by the judge.
There are certain juvenile probation conditions that a juvenile court must order if a minor is placed on probation. They include:
- Requiring the child to attend school;
- Requiring the child’s parents or guardian to participate in counseling or education;
- Requiring the child to abide by a nighttime curfew.
In addition, if the juvenile crime involves an illegal controlled substance or alcohol, the minor will be required to participate in and complete an alcohol or drug education program.
Under WIC725 the judge can also order:
- Supervised juvenile probation, or
- Unsupervised juvenile probation.
Juvenile probation is supervised by the county probation department.
WARD OF THE COURT
A juvenile court judge also has the authority, depending on the circumstances of the case, to declare a child a ward of the court.
Being made a ward of the court means the court assumes authority over the child as if the court is the minor’s parent, even if the child remains in the home.
DISMISSAL OF A JUVENILE CASE
Once a child successfully completes the terms, conditions, and period of juvenile probation, the court MUST (in most cases):
- Order the petition dismissed, and
- Order all records pertaining to the juvenile petition sealed.
Further, the juvenile arrest which led to the filing of the dismissed juvenile petition is then deemed not to have occurred.
In the following sections our California Juvenile Delinquency Attorneys will highlight some of the most important things to know about juvenile probation and WIC 725:
- 1. Can A Juvenile Be Placed on Probation in California?
- 2. Will A Child Be Ordered To Do Anything While OnJuvenile Probation?
- 3. What Is A Ward of The Court?
- 4. Can a Juvenile Record Be Sealed or Dismissed When Probation Ends?
- 5. Can a Parent Get in Trouble if Their Child is Arrested?
- 6. Is the Alleged Victim Allowed to Attend the Juvenile Court Hearings?
1. Can A Juvenile Be Placed on Probation in California?
Yes. Welfare and Institutions Code section 725 gives a juvenile court judge the authority to:
- place a child on probation,
- order reasonable conditions and terms of probation,
- declare the child a ward of the court.
Note that in Los Angeles County, prosecutors seek supervised probation only in serious felony cases.1
2. Will A Child Be Ordered To Do Anything While On Juvenile Probation?
The juvenile court has broad discretion to impose reasonable probation terms and conditions.
The following conditions of juvenile probation are required in every juvenile probation case unless the court finds they are not appropriate:
- Mandatory school attendance,
- Parent participation with the child in a counseling or education program,
- Curfew between 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. unless accompanied by parent, guardian, or adult custodian.
The court may also order additional conditions after carefully considering:
- the child’s social history, and
- the circumstances of the individual child’s case.
ALCOHOL AND DRUG CONDITIONS
California courts take alcohol and/or drug use by children very seriously. If the case filed against the juvenile involves:
- the use, furnishing, or possession of an illegal controlled substance by a minor, or
- consumption or possession of alcohol by a minor,
the judge MUST order the completion of an alcohol or drug education program.2
In addition, the judge may order regular drug and/or alcohol testing of the minor. If testing is ordered it will be conducted through the probation department.
If a minor child fails to successfully complete all of the terms and conditions imposed by the judge they could be declared a ward of the juvenile court.
3. What Is A Ward of the Court?
Being declared a ward of the court means that the court takes jurisdiction and authority over the minor as if the court was the minor’s parent. This is referred to as wardship probation if imposed pursuant to WIC725.
The following situations are possible if a wardship is declared:
- The parents or guardian still retain custody of the child,
- But with either supervised or unsupervised probation;
- The court may limit the control of the parents or guardian,
- The court may remove the child from the parent’s or guardian’s custody
Please note that if a minor is placed on probation under WIC725 without being declared a ward of the court it is referred to as non-wardship probation.
CONFINEMENT IN JUVENILE HALL
If a child has been declared a ward, the court may order a brief commitment to juvenile hall as a condition of probation.
The Court may also remove the child from the home and place the child in juvenile hall if it finds that:
- the parents have not provided appropriate care and education,
- the child has not reformed after previous probation in the parents’ custody,
- the child’s welfare requires removal.
Please note that only a child declared a ward of the court can be removed from the home and confined in juvenile hall. A minor placed on non-wardship probation cannot be put in juvenile hall.
4. Can a Juvenile Record Be Sealed or Dismissed When Probation Ends?
Once a child successfully completes WIC 725 probation the court MUST:
- order the petition dismissed,
- order all records pertaining to the petition sealed.
Additionally, the arrest which led to the filing of the dismissed petition is:
- deemed not to have occurred.
This section applies whether or not the child was ever made a ward of the court.
Please note that this procedure may not be available if a serious crime was committed by the minor, for example, murder, arson or robbery.3
5. Can a Parent Get in Trouble if Their Child is Arrested?
Yes. A child’s parents or guardians have legal responsibilities.
If a minor commits a crime in California, then their parents or guardians:
- may be held financially responsible for any damages caused by the child,
- may have to pay the victim if the court orders restitution.
Please note that restitution is money paid to compensate for losses or damage caused by the child’s actions.
For example, a parent may be ordered to:
- pay for what their child stole, or
- pay for a victim’s medical bills or lost wages if someone was injured by a minor.
6. Is the Alleged Victim Allowed to Attend the Juvenile Court Hearings?
It’s possible. Victims of juvenile crimes in California have legal rights, too. They have:
- the right to information about the case, and
- to participate in the court process.
For more information about those rights please see:
Call us for help…
If your child has been arrested or accused of a crime, or you need help navigating the juvenile court process in California, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation. You can either reach us online or over the phone, 24/7, at (855) LAW-FIRM.
- WIC section 725; LADA Special Directive 20-09.
- WIC section 729.10
- WIC WIC707(b)