In California, a minor who violates the law proceeds to the juvenile court for trial. If the judge finds the offender guilty, he/she is sentenced. The judge could declare the minor a ward of the court, meaning that the court will have control and power over the juvenile. The minor could face various sentences, which include a commitment to probation. Usually, juvenile probation is diverse, and probation cases are often complicated. If your child is sentenced to juvenile probation, it is essential to seek the services of an experienced criminal attorney. Our team at the Los Angeles Criminal Attorney will assist you in navigating the probation and represent you at each stage of the applicable hearings.

Everything You Need To Know About Juvenile Probation

Most people need to become more familiar with juvenile probation, including the conditions of probation. Here is what you need to know about juvenile probation:

After Your Child Is Placed On Probation

You must visit the Juvenile Services Office in your area or the Los Angeles County Probation Department. All minors who are newly placed on probation must complete an assessment and orientation. In addition, the probation officer in charge often conducts school and home visits and sets meetings with the offenders’ parents or guardians to assess how the juveniles are doing.

What To Bring During The First Meeting With The Probation Officer

During the first meeting with the probation officer, a parent/guardian should bring the following:

  • Social security card
  • The child’s birth certificate
  • The juvenile packet that was provided to the parent or guardian in court

How Long Does The Child Remain In Probation

Several factors determine the period a child will be on probation. The factors include:

  • The applicable custody time for the offense committed
  • The juvenile offender’s progress while on probation supervision
  • The child’s compliance while on probation supervision
  • The severity of the offense

Whether A Juvenile Record Be Erased Or Expunged

An offender must seek a Certificate of Rehabilitation from the court before requesting a pardon from the Governor. Generally, the Certificate of Rehabilitation gives the offender a chance to have some of their political and civil rights of citizenship restored. Therefore, obtaining a Certificate of Rehabilitation also acts as a plea to the Governor for a pardon. Penal Code 4852.17 of California law defines the rights restored by a pardon.

You could also submit your request by petitioning the court to have your record expunged. You can only file the petition if you are eligible. You can do so in the superior court near you or the superior court in which you were charged with a felony. You can also file the petition with the court that dismissed your accusatory pleading according to Penal Code 1203.4. You need to consult a competent attorney because this is a lengthy process.

Types Of Juvenile Probation

The Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC) are regulations, statutes, and rules that govern juvenile probation. Different probations differ in terms of wardship and non-wardship. Wardship probation means the court exercises control over the minor as a parent. Wardship probation permits the department of probation to remove a juvenile from their home if necessary. Non-wardship prohibits the department of probation from removing the minor from their home.

Wardship Probation — Welfare And Institutions Code 602

Placement in wardship probation means you were found guilty of violating the law; the judge placed you on formal probation supervised by the Department of Probation, and you are now a ward of court. You could be under the court's jurisdiction up to 21 years of age. However, you could remain under the court's jurisdiction for up to 24 years if the court commits you to the Division of Juvenile Justice.

Informal Diversion — Welfare And Institutions Code 626(b)

Under this Code, the police could place you under an informal program. Since no charges are filed against you, the court cannot intervene. The officer handling your case could have you appear in a teen court or organize a peacemaking meeting between you and the victim.

Informal Probation — Welfare And Institutions Code 654

This is a diversion program; the probation officer could place you under it if he/she believes you could benefit from its services. This is a voluntary agreement between you, your parents or guardians, and the probation officer. The probation officer could place you under this program for six months. The officer will close and dismiss your case if you complete this program. However, if you fail to complete the program, the Department of Probation will make a referral to the District Attorney’s Office for a formal petition to the Juvenile Court.

Informal Probation — Welfare And Institutions Code 654.2

The court could order you to undergo this diversion program when the District Attorney’s Office files a formal petition with the Juvenile Court. In this case, the court will not sentence you but put your case on hold. This often allows you to participate in a six-month diversion program with the Department of Probation. The court will dismiss the alleged charges and close the case against you if you complete the program. However, the court could sentence you for violating the law if you fail to complete the program.

Non-Wardship Probation — Welfare And Institutions Code 725(a)

Under this Code, the court could have found you guilty of committing a misdemeanor crime. The court places you on probation that does not exceed six months. The court could impose several terms that you must comply with to complete the probation successfully

Wardship Probation —  Welfare And Institutions Code 725(b)

According to this Code, the court has authority and jurisdiction over you but places you on probation that lasts six months with specific terms and conditions.

Wardship Probation —Welfare And Institutions Code 727

According to this Penal Code, the court will exercise authority over you. This often happens if the court finds you guilty of committing a particular offense. The court will supervise everything you do, and you will be required to follow the rules and regulations.

Deferred Entry Of Judgment Probation — Welfare And Institutions Code 790

If the court finds you guilty of committing a felony, according to WIC 790, you could be placed on probation. However, you must meet certain conditions before you are placed on probation. The requirements include the following:

  • The crime charged is not one of the PC 707(b) crimes
  • You must qualify for probation according to Penal Code 1203.6
  • You have not previously been declared a ward of the court, and the pending case is your first felony charge
  • Your record does not show records of probation revocation
  • You had attained the age of 14 at the time of the hearing
  • You have not been sentenced to the California Youth Authority

The crimes that fall under Penal Code 707(b) are severe criminal offenses. Some of the violations include the following:

  • Forcible sex crimes
  • Armed carjacking
  • Kidnapping causing physical harm, arson, or theft
  • Rape with force
  • Assault using a firearm or any assault resulting in physical harm
  • Murder
  • Attempted murder
  • Sexual assault
  • Various violent felonies

The eligibility and procedures for misdemeanor and felony probation are explained under California’s Penal Code 1203.6. Probation allows you to serve all or some of your sentences out of jail, provided you comply with various conditions. Most minors charged with misdemeanor offenses, even repeat offenders, qualify for summary probation under Penal Code 1203.6 of California law.

Typically, summary probation includes no jail term provided you complete other conditions like paying restitution and fines. Unless you have committed a sex offense, the judge does not demand a probation report before granting you probation. However, it could be hard for the judge to give you probation if you are charged with a felony crime. Unlike in misdemeanor charges, probation in felony cases is also more formal. The judge could demand a probation report before deciding whether you are eligible for probation. You will not qualify for probation if you do the following:

  • Inflicted significant bodily injury on the victim
  • You used a deadly weapon
  • You hurt or killed another person in a drive-by-shooting
  • You furnished PCP

Probation Violation

You could violate probation by failing to adhere to the rules and regulations set by various probation facilities, which every minor is expected to adhere to. If you violate the probation rules, the probation officer will file the violation in court. If the court determines that you violated probation rules, the judge could cancel the probation and add severe penalties like incarceration. Some of the violations you could commit include the following:

Violation Of Non-Wardship Probation

Once you are arrested in California for a criminal offense, the juvenile probation officer will review your case. He/she will decide whether to take your case to the District Attorney’s office for petition filing in juvenile delinquency court. If you are charged with a low-level crime, the probation officer could grant you informal diversion, according to WIC 654, instead of having a petition filed. Informal diversion takes one year, and you will be required to adhere to the terms and conditions of the program. If you fail to comply with the set terms and conditions, the officer will refer your case to the District Attorney to file a petition in the Juvenile Court.

Violation Of Juvenile Probation

If you have been declared a ward of the court and placed on home probation, the probation officer will inform the District Attorney and the court regarding your probation violation. The WIC Code 777 allows the District Attorney to file a petition against you to revoke and terminate probation. The probation officer will write a report and recommend whether you should be removed from the home. However, you can request a formal hearing to contest the probation violation allegations.

Violation of a Deferred Entry of Judgment (DEJ) Program

The Welfare and Institutions Code 725 allows the court to place you on a deferred entry of judgment program in Juvenile Court. According to this statute, you admit the facts of the petition, but the judge does not declare you a ward of the court. The judge dismisses the charges against you if you complete the DEJ program.

If you violate the DEJ, the judge could declare you a ward of the court and place you on probation. Once you are put on DEJ, you are eligible for a formal probation hearing. However, your eligibility will depend on the probation officer's recommendation to revoke the DEJ program. If the court desires to remove you from your parent's home, you are eligible for a formal contested disposition hearing.

The Juvenile Probation Violation Hearing

During your probation violation hearing, the prosecutor presents witnesses before the court. Your criminal defense attorney will also have the chance to cross-examine the prosecutor’s witnesses. You also have a right to present your witnesses.

The laws allow hearsay evidence provided the court deems the evidence as ''reliable''. The prosecution witnesses have less burden of proof during probation terms violation hearing than during trial. They only have to show that you violated probation conditions by a preponderance of the evidence.

You could face punishment if the judge finds out that you violated probation. For example, the judge could place you on probation with enhanced terms and conditions. Some terms and conditions could include additional community service requirements, stricter curfews, and loss of privileges. The judge could also revoke the probation and send you to a locked juvenile facility or a probation camp. However, before the court removes you from your family home, you will have a chance to explain why the court should allow you to stay at home.

Legal Rights During A Probation Hearing

You must understand your legal rights to avoid severe consequences if you are charged with a probation violation. Some of your rights are:

  • Right to present witnesses and evidence to support your case
  • Right to be represented by an attorney
  • Right to be informed of the violations against you through a written letter
  • The right to be heard by a non-biased judge

A competent criminal defense attorney can examine your case and assist you in understanding your rights.

The Role Of Probation Officers In Juvenile Probation

Once the court places you on probation, it will allocate you a probation officer who will supervise you to ensure you adhere to the rules and conditions of the probation. You must report to the probation officer weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. Your parents or guardians will also be required to report any probation violation to the probation officer. Your parents are charged to work with the probation officer to ensure you follow and obey the terms of probation.

Probation officers are essential in Juvenile Delinquency, just like the prosecutor and defense attorneys. They offer their opinions on how different juvenile cases should be handled. They also run the juvenile halls and take care of minors serving probation. They play a crucial role in juvenile cases from the arrest to disposition.

The Role of Probation Officer during the Minor’s Arrest phase

The arresting officer will take you to the county probation officers for an interview if your crime is severe. The probation officer can decide to do the following after the interview:

  • Decide that you remain in custody until the judge scrutinizes your case, which takes less than 48 hours
  • Issue a diversion program and allow you to return home. In this case, the probation officer does not file the petition. Instead, you will have the chance to sit with your family and the probation officer to discuss the case.
  • Schedule a court hearing with the judge and allow you to go back home or place you in an alternative placement

The Role Of Probation Officer During The Adjudication Phase

The probation officer will request the prosecutor to do the following after interviewing you:

  • File for an adjudication petition
  • Try you through the juvenile court system
  • Send you to an adult court

The prosecution filing is essential for all 707(b) charges. However, the prosecutor considers the following before recommending a filing:

  • If there are discussions regarding your charges and if it has been determined that the court's dispositions are necessary
  • Your attitude and that of your family
  • Your age and maturity, as well as your capabilities
  • If the crime you committed posed a threat to someone else’s physical health or if it involved violence
  • If you have any significant issues within the school, society, or family

The Role Of Probation Officer During Disposition Phase

Once the judge convicts you or places you on probation, they assign you a probation officer. The officer that recommended the petition filing will not necessarily be the one the judge gives you. If the court places you on formal probation, you must meet with the probation officer bi-weekly or weekly.

The probation officer could set a meeting with you whenever they feel necessary. You will not frequently meet with the probation officer if you are on informal probation. The probation officer could call or meet with you and your family occasionally.

The probation officer's duties are to help you attend diversion programs and ensure that you follow the terms and conditions of the probation. Your caregivers are expected to report to the probation office if they discover any violation you commit. The court or the probation officer could set specific terms and conditions based on the severity of the offense you committed and your criminal history. Some of the terms and conditions could include the following:

  • Being banned from involvement in gang activities, associating with gang members, or even wearing gang colors
  • Complying with curfew hours
  • Paying for the damages caused to the victim or the county
  • Attending school without failure
  • Movement restriction and being monitored electronically
  • Not going close to the victim.
  • Taking part in anger management, alcohol, and drug programs
  • Removing tattoos
  • Participating in random alcohol and drug tests

Juvenile Probation And Drug Testing

If the court places you on probation and orders you to go for a drug test, you must give a urine sample to the probation department. The aim of the test is often to check the presence of heroin, ecstasy, meth, angel dust, heroin, cocaine, marijuana, and LSD. With the help of a drug recognition expert, the probation department could also conduct background research to determine the drugs you have been consuming.

Some of the signs you could exhibit that are related to drug abuse include the following:

  • Changes in the eyes, including a reaction to light, dilation, or constriction
  • Needle marks and injection sites
  • Poor performance on the coordination tests
  • Movements that indicate the rigidity of muscles

Senate Bill 190

Former Governor Brown signed Senate Bill 190 into law on October 11, 2017. This was a major juvenile justice reform bill meant to enhance public safety and improve youth rehabilitation. In addition, the bill ended the aggressive and racially discriminatory practice of imposing administrative fees on parents and guardians of children in the juvenile system.

Senate Bill 190 repeals explicitly county government to charge administrative fees to guardians and parents for the following:

  • Children probation supervision
  • Legal representation
  • Detention
  • Electronic monitoring, and
  • Drug testing in the juvenile system

Currently, 51 of 58 counties charge one or more of these fees. California is the first state in the United States to abolish all juvenile administrative fees. As a result, the State of California today is a national model committed to what works for justice-involved youth. This reduces the barriers and supports families to succeed.

Find a Criminal Attorney Near Me

Juvenile probation can be emotionally draining, especially if the juvenile must adhere to stringent probation conditions. However, a probation sentence is better than committing the CYA or other severe penalties. If you or a loved one has an existing or pending juvenile case, you should seek the services of an experienced attorney to help you navigate the juvenile justice system. At the Los Angeles Criminal Attorney, we have skilled attorneys with extensive experience representing clients and guiding them through juvenile probation. Contact us at 424-333-0943 to speak to one of our attorneys.