Probation Conditions in Juvenile Cases

Jerod Gunsberg, Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer

In juvenile delinquency cases throughout California, there are two kinds of probation: wardship probation and non-wardship probation.

Wardship Probation

  • Under wardship probation, the court declares a minor a “ward of the court.” This means that the court has jurisdiction over the minor and may impose a wide variety of probation terms. These terms will always include school attendance, counseling (the court can order counseling for the minor and the parent), and curfew restrictions. Other terms will be tailored to the nature of the offense and may include drug testing and payment of restitution to the victim. A court may maintain jurisdiction over a minor on wardship probation until he or she is 21 years old (this is rare). If a minor has been remanded into the custody of the Division of Juvenile Justice, a court may maintain jurisdiction over the minor until he or she 25 years old.

    While the most common wardship probation plan is to allow a minor to remain in the family home with probation conditions (called “Home on Probation” or “H.O.P.”), the court does have the power to order the minor removed from the family home. However, before removing a child from the home, the court must find the following under Welfare and Institutions Code 726(c):

    1. The minor’s parent or guardian has failed to provide, or is incapable of providing, proper maintenance, training, and education;
    2. The minor has been on probation in the physical custody of his or her parent or guardian and has failed to reform; or
    3. The minor’s welfare requires removing the minor from the physical custody of the parent or guardian.

    If the court orders the minor removed from the home, the court can place the child in a group home or foster home.  If the court feels the need that the child needs strict and formal supervision, the child may be ordered to a county-run probation camp.

    Non-Wardship Probation

    In non-wardship probation, the court cannot remove a minor from his/her home. These probation terms also run for a definite period of time. If the minor completes a non-wardship probation successfully, the charges are dismissed. There are 4 non-wardship probation options available.

    Informal Diversion

    The police or arresting agency refer the case to an informal diversion program. A case is never filed and charges are never brought. The police will refer the case to a service agency that provides informal diversion (such as informal victim/offender resolution, “teen court”or other similar programs). Your minor will never see the inside of a courtroom, these matters are handled before the case is ever referred to a District Attorney. See Welfare and Institutions Code 626(b).

    Informal Diversion Through the Courts

    If a case is filed, the District Attorney and/or the court may agree to informal diversion (often referred to as “654”). In this situation, a minor does not admit guilt of the charged offense and will have six months to complete terms and conditions of probation that are laid out by the court. These conditions may include counseling, community service, improved school performance, and/or drug testing. If the terms are not completed in six months, the court can extend informal diversion as long as the period of time continued doesn’t exceed the one year anniversary of the offense itself. While this is informal diversion, there is no requirement that the underlying offense is a felony or misdemeanor. You cannot have been placed on 654 previously. However, you may in the interest of justice. See Welfare and Institutions Code 654.

    Six Month Deferred Entry of Judgment

    If a minor is charged with a misdemeanor, he or she may be available for a six-month deferred entry of judgment (often referred to as “725”). The minor will admit to at least one of the offenses charged and the court will impose probation conditions. Terms and conditions of probation must be completed in 6 months. If the terms and conditions of probation were not satisfied, the court has the option of declaring the minor a “ward of the court” and putting him or her on “HOP.” See Welfare and Institutions Code 725(a).

    One Year Deferred Entry of Judgement

    A one year deferred entry of judgement (often referred to as 790) applies only to felonies and works in essentially the same way as W&I 725. The difference is the time period which is a minimum of 12 months and can go as long as 36 months (which is rare). If the minor complies with the terms and conditions of probation, the case will be dismissed. If not, the minor will be declared a “ward of the court.” A minor only qualifies for 790 if he/she is at least 14 at the time of the first court hearing and the offense cannot be a “serious or violent felony” (see Welfare and Institutions Code 707(b)). The minor must also not have had his/her probation revoked in another matter.

    It is important to speak with a qualified juvenile defense attorney regarding probation conditions for you or your child. If you have a juvenile case in Los Angeles County, contact juvenile criminal defense attorney Jerod Gunsberg at (323) 633-3423 or get in touch via the secure contact form on this page.

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