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Juvenile Probation

Juvenile probation is a court order imposed on many juvenile offenders. The juvenile justice system’s main aim is rehabilitating minors, not punishing them. Therefore, probation is a less severe sentence than jail time. During probation, minors could undergo various programs to make them become better people.

During probation, rules and restrictions are set, and your child must follow them. Note that probation is not imposed on all minors. If your child is facing charges, contact a competent criminal attorney for guidance. At Leah Legal, we offer legal guidance and representation for juvenile offenders facing criminal charges in Van Nuys, CA. Contact us today for legal help if you learn about your child’s charges.

Overview of Juvenile Probation in California

Juvenile probation is a court order imposed on many juvenile offenders. The juvenile justice system handles minors between 12 and 17 years. When a minor is found guilty, the court could impose several punishments. Possible punishments your child could face include payment of restitution, detention in the juvenile hall, and juvenile probation.

Juvenile probation is an alternative to jail time and a better option for your child. While on probation, your minor can continue to attend school and remain in the community. Also, the child can avoid the psychological trauma that arises because of detention.

Juvenile probation is varied. Should your child become a ward of the court, then the court will have the authority to remove your child from home when the circumstances warrant it. Since juvenile court aims at rehabilitating minors for a better future, most juvenile defendants are sentenced to probation. This requires the probation department to be involved in all phases of a juvenile case. The juvenile court greatly relies on probation officers to check on the juvenile offenders and give recommendations.

Juvenile Probation Types in California

Juvenile offenders are subject to several types of probation under the Welfare and institutions Code:

Informal Diversion — WIC 626 (b)

When a minor commits a crime, a police officer could refer them to a diversion program. No charges will be filed in such a situation, and the court does not intervene in the matter. However, your child may need to appear in a juvenile court or meet with the victims to resolve the matter.

Informal Probation (non-Wardship) —WIC 654

The non-wardship informal probation is a program that is entirely under the juvenile probation department. The prosecution does not need to file a formal petition on a juvenile offender to be placed on this probation type. Your child remains at home for the six months probation period. Non-Wardship probation is often for juveniles who commit minor crimes. However, a youth who commits a felony could qualify if they have not been sentenced to probation before.

Informal Probation - WIC 654.2

WIC 654.2 probation is under the court’s authority. Your child is sentenced to this type of probation after formal probation is filed. After sentencing, the petition is put on hold for months while the juvenile participates in the diversion program. Your child is required to complete the diversion program before the charges are dismissed.

Deferred Entry of Judgment – WIC 725(a)

For this provision, a juvenile offender admits to a misdemeanor, but the youth is placed under a six months’ probation under the probation department. If a minor fails to complete all the conditions in the six months, the court extends probation. Unless a minor fails to abide by the probation terms, the juvenile is not a court ward.

Wardship Probation – WIC 725 (b)

Wardship probation gives the juvenile court jurisdiction and authority over the minor. This kind of probation lasts for up to six months, and the terms and conditions must be followed.

Deferred Entry of Judgment Probation – WIC 790

If a minor commits a less serious felony, the judgment’s entry could be deferred and the offender placed on probation. However, there are strict criteria for this type of probation:

  1. A minor should be at least fourteen years at the time of the hearing.
  2. The youth has not been previously declared a ward of the court for a felony.
  3. The crime is not a 707b offense. 707b offenses are serious crimes such as murder, rape, arson, kidnapping, or sexual assault. If a minor commits one of these offenses, they could be charged as adults and face serious consequences.
  4. The juvenile has never had a probation sentence revoked for violation of probation terms.
  5. The crime for which they are child is not sex-related

Wardship Probation – WIC 602

If a juvenile is taken to court and the judge finds that they violated the law, the minor is placed under Wardship probation. If your child is a ward of the court, the court will have authority over them until they turn twenty-one years. If your child is facing criminal charges in juvenile court, it would be wise to seek legal guidance for them.

The Role of juvenile Probation Department during a Juvenile Case

In an adult criminal case, the leading players are the criminal defense attorney, the judge, and a prosecutor. However, in a juvenile delinquency case, a probation officer plays a significant role:

Arrest Phase

If a youth is arrested for a serious crime, the arresting officer will take them to a probation officer to be interviewed at the juvenile hall. The probation officer will then send the minor to a diversion program, send them home, or detain them.

Adjudication Phase

At the adjudication phase, the probation officer could recommend the prosecutor file a petition against the minor in juvenile or adult court. In most cases, the nature of the minor’s crime will affect the probation officer’s recommendation. Also, a minor’s attitude to the programs offered in the juvenile justice system is fundamental. If a minor committed a severe offense classified under 707b, the prosecutor would likely recommend they be tried in adult court.

If the court imposes formal probation, the juvenile must regularly report their progress to the probation officer. The probation officer is responsible for ensuring that the youth meets all the terms set by the court. Also, the officer needs to assist the juvenile in attending the programs mandated by the court.

As a parent, the court required you to be in close contact with your child’s probation officer and report any violations. In case a minor violates probation, the probation officer is the one to report the matter to the court and provide evidence at the probation violation hearing.

Sentencing Phase

If the judge sustains a petition against a minor, the probation officer is responsible for supervising them. Also, the probation officer may be required to give the court recommendations on whether or not the minor committed the offense for which they are charged. The probation officer appointed by the probation department must keep watch of the juvenile delinquent. This will be the case whether the juvenile is on probation or placed in a juvenile camp.

Drug testing

There are several offenses for which minors could be arrested, some of which are drug-related. Also, if a juvenile is sentenced to probation, they need to undergo random testing. The probation department requires a juvenile to submit urine samples for illegal drugs such as heroin or cocaine. This helps understand the juvenile’s choice of drugs for testing in the future. A drug recognition expert could also help determine the category of drugs ingested by the minor.

Violation of Juvenile Probation

When the juvenile court places a youth on probation, the judge outlines a list of rules and conditions a minor must meet during the probation period. The probation department and the minor’s parents are responsible for ensuring that the juvenile delinquent completes probation successfully. The probation could impose the following conditions:

  • A minor who is serving probation may be required to participate in anger management and drug-related programs.
  • Mandatory School attendance. When your child is sentenced to probation in California, they can carry on with their lives since school attendance is one probation term.
  • Random drug test. In California, an individual is only required to submit to a drug test under certain circumstances. However, when your minor child is on probation, they may have to submit to the tests randomly.
  • Victim restitution. If a youth committed a crime that resulted in loss or injury to another person, they might be required to compensate the victim as part of probation.
  • House arrest. Movement for a minor on probation is restricted to places such as school, doctors’ appointments, or counseling.
  • If your child is on probation, they need to adhere to a strict curfew.

If a minor violates a term of probation, they could face f=more serious consequences. At a probation violation hearing, the prosecution presents evidence and witnesses to establish that a juvenile violated or set more rules when they were sentenced to probation. Your child’s attorney can cross-examine the witnesses and present counter-evidence on the probation violation claim.

In a violation hearing, there is less burden to prove that a minor violated a rule. If the judge is convinced that your child violated probation, they may be placed back with more strict regulations or revoke probation and reinstatement of detention.

If a minor is already a ward of the court, the prosecutor could file a petition to revoke probation. The department will prepare a report outlining how the youth perfumed in probation. If your child is facing charges for juvenile probation violation, it would be beneficial if an attorney represents them.

Alternative Punishment for Juvenile offenders

A criminal defendant who is under 18 years is sent to a juvenile court. In the juvenile justice system, minors are not tried in front of a jury. Instead, the judge reviews the evidence and concludes whether the minor committed the alleged offense. Even though many juvenile offenders are sentenced to probation, there are several other forms of punishment your child could face if they are found to have committed a crime in California.

For juveniles, sentencing options fall under two major categories:

Incarceration Options

If a juvenile court finds that a minor violated a criminal law, they may be incarcerated to punish their actions. Some of the various forms of incarceration may include:

  1. Home confinement. For this kind of punishment, the court orders a minor to remain home with exceptions of places such as school or counseling visits.
  2. Placement out of the home. Sometimes the judge may place a minor in a foster or group home as part of a punishment for their crimes.
  3. Juvenile hall. For a minor who is found in violation of the law, the judge could order them to stay in juvenile hall for some time.
  4. Adult jail. Sometimes minors commit serious offenses that could prompt them to be charged as adults. Crimes such as murder, manslaughter, or sex-related offenses may cause a minor to spend time in an adult jail.
  5. Blended sentence. For some crimes, the court could order a minor to spend time in a juvenile facility until they turn eighteen then transfer to an adult jail.

Non-incarceration Punishment

For less serious crimes, the judge could order rehabilitation options without a need for confinement:

  • It is crucial to understand that the minor’s parents or guardians shoulder any juvenile crimes’ financial obligations.
  • Depending on the crime your child is arrested for committing, the court could order mandatory counseling to rehabilitate their behavior.
  • Community service. As punishment for juvenile crime, a minor may be required to serve community work.

Regardless of the case’s circumstances, a knowledgeable attorney is necessary to help guide your child through the challenging process.

Juvenile Probation Frequently Asked Questions

In California, probation is often an alternative to a jail sentence. Not all juvenile defendants are eligible for probation. However, a competent attorney can help convince the judge to impose this sentence. The following are some frequently asked questions on juvenile probation:

  1. Can I visit my child in juvenile hall?

Family visitation is a significant part of the rehabilitation process, and the probation department encourages it. Through this process, the juveniles have an opportunity to engage in confidential conversations under supervision. On arriving at the juvenile hall, the minor needs to give a list of family and guardians who can come to visit. Detention in a juvenile hall can be life-changing for your child. Therefore, family visitation could do so much good for them.

  1. What should I do if my child is sentenced to probation?

When your child is put on probation for juvenile crime, you must check in with the probation department where your child will be oriented. A probation officer is selected to check on the minor to check the progress.

  1. How long does juvenile probation last?

Several factors play a role in the duration that your child needs to spend on probation. The severity of the offense committed and a minor’s reception to rehabilitation will affect the court’s decision.

  1. What does it mean that my child is declared a ward of the court?

When a minor violates the criminal law, they are taken to juvenile court. The judge reviews evidence brought against the minor to determine if he committed the alleged crime. If the court finds sufficient evidence against your child, they will be put under probation, and the court takes primary responsibility for the minor’s control.

  1. What happens if my child violates probation?

When a minor is on probation, their progress and adherence to probation conditions are closely monitored by the probation officer. The consequences of a probation violation depend on the seriousness of the violation. In most cases, a probation violation could cause revocation of probation and reinstatement of more severe punishment.

Find a Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me

According to California law, minors lack the mental capacity to understand the nature of their actions. Therefore, when an individual below 18 years commits a crime, they are rehabilitated under the juvenile justice system. The juvenile system aims to rehabilitate the children, and children who have committed minor crimes are sentenced to probation.

Probation is beneficial in that your child can continue to attend school and remain in society. The type of probation imposed on your child depends on the nature of their crime. If your child faces charges in juvenile court, the situation could be devastating for you and them.

Seeking guidance from an experienced attorney will help your child understand their situation and take steps to help achieve the best outcome in the case. If your child is facing charges in Van Nuys, CA, we invite you to contact Leah Legal today at 818-484-1100.