What Can Happen to My Child?
Orange County Juvenile Criminal Sentencing
There are several ways to resolve your child’s case:
When a case is not very serious, the minor might be eligible for informal probation under W&I Sec. 654 or W&I Sec. 725. This occurs in nonviolent first-time offenses such as Penal Code 484 Petty Theft or Penal Code 602 Trespass.
W&I Sec. 654 Diversion
Under California Welfare & Institutions Code Section 654, the case is “diverted” to probation before a petition filing takes place. Which means it is handled by probation, before the minor’s cases “enters the system.” A 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, a formal petition can be filed with the DA/juvenile court.
W&I Sec. 725 Informal Probation
Under Welfare & Institutions Code Section 725, the judge makes the decision to place the minor on informal probation, and not declare the Minor a “ward of the court.” The difference from W&I Sec. 654 informal probation is that a petition is actually filed, but it is “put on hold” so the minor gets a second chance.
This is also lasts up to six months, and minor never admits guilt. As long as the minor complies with the probation terms the petition gets dismissed. Probation conditions generally include school attendance, counseling for the minor, Community Work Program, curfew and possible drug testing.
W&I 790 Deferred Entry of Judgment
Deferred entry of judgment (or “DEJ” for short) requires the minor admit guilt upfront, but results in a dismissal of the charges if he/she completes the DEJ program. DEJ is available for first time felonies that are not Section 707(b) (or strike) offenses. DEJ lasts between 12 and 36 months.
When a California juvenile court declares the minor to be a ward of the court, the court can sentence the minor to terms of probation. Sometimes wards can complete their probation at home (even though they are wards of the court), or in juvenile hall, or drug program.
Probation terms can include anything reasonably necessary for the rehabilitation of the minor, including:
- mandatory school attendance,
- community work program,
- curfew restrictions,
- substance abuse counseling,
- not hanging out with certain people,
- community service,
- graffiti removal, and
Aside from adult prison, the most serious penalty a minor can face is commitment at CYA (California Youth Authority). Only minors whose most recent adjudication is for a 707(b) “strike” offense, an offense requiring sex offender registration in California can be sent to CYA.