Los Angeles Juvenile Defense Attorney

Posts Tagged ‘Juvenile Court’

What Happens If My Child Violates Probation?

Monday, January 11th, 2010

The consequences of violating probation depend on what type of probation your child is on.  If you are not sure what the different types of probation are, you may want to read this article first:  ”Juvenile Probation Options and Conditions.”  You can also check the paperwork given to you by the court, which will explain.


If your child is accused of a probation violation in Los Angeles County, it is important to contact a qualified juvenile defense attorney to discuss the case.

Consequences of Violating “Non-Wardship” Probation

If your child is on informal diversion (known as “654″), the court may extend the period of informal diversion until your child complies.  But remember, informal diversion can only last for one year from the date of the offense.  If the year has expired and your child still has not complied or if the court finds that the violation is serious, the case against your child will likely go forward.

This means that the District Attorney will either want your child to admit or deny the charges against him and your child and you will need to decide whether or not to accept the settlement offer or take the case to trial.

If your Child is on Deferred Entry of Judgment (“725″ or “790″)

If your child is on a 6-month Deferred Entry of Judgment Probation for a misdemeanor, the court may wish to revoke 725 and declare your child a ward of the court.  This means that your child’s case will not be dismissed and he or she will be placed on formal wardship probation (known as “Home on Probation” of “HOP”).

With non-wardship probation your child is not entitled to a formal probation violation hearing, however he or she is entitled to a hearing based on a supplemental report prepared by probation which will recommend to the court what should happen to your child.

If the Court wishes to remove your child from the home, he or she has a right to a “contested disposition hearing” where your child’s attorney can present evidence that favors keeping your child in the family home.

If your Child is on already a Ward of the Court and is “Home on Probation” (“H.O.P.”)

If your child is already a ward of the court and on H.O.P. and arrested for violating a term or condition of probation, the district attorney must file what is known as a 777 Petition to revoke and terminate probation (called a “Triple Seven”).  When a 777 petition is filed, whether or not your child is detained in juvenile hall, the same time periods apply as when any other charges are filed (read the article about time periods in juvenile cases).

Your child is entitled to a probation violation hearing.  Before this hearing, the Probation Department will prepare a report detailing how the minor has done on probation and make a recommendation as to whether or not to remove your child from the family home.  The court will consider this report along with other evidence presented by both the defense and prosecution.

Your Child’s Rights At a Probation Violation Hearing

A probation violation hearing has similar rights as an adult probation violation hearing.  Your child has the right to cross-examine the prosecution’s witnesses and the right to call witnesses to challenge the evidence presented by the District Attorney.

Hearsay evidence is allowed at a probation violation hearing, as long as it is “reliable” in the eyes of the court.  Also, the District Attorney only needs to prove by a “preponderance of the evidence” that your child violated probation.  This means that they only need to show that there was a “50.1% chance” that your child violated probation.  This is a much lower standard than at trial, where allegations must be proven “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

If the Court Wants To Remove Your Child From The Family Home
If the Court wants to remove the child from the family home, your child has the right to present evidence to the court as to why your should remain in the home.  As a parent, the court will be interested in what you have to say as to why your child should remain in the home.  Of course, all of this should be organized and strategized by your child’s attorney.

Juvenile Probation Violations in Los Angeles County are very serious matters.  It is important to contact a qualified attorney to discuss you or your child’s case.  For probation violation, contact Attorney Jerod Gunserg at 310-210-0744 for a free consultation about you or your child’s juvenile case.

Will My Child Be In Juvenile Court or Adult Court?

Friday, January 8th, 2010

In certain situations, a case from juvenile court will be transferred to adult court.  Depending on the alleged offense, this case may either be filed directly in adult court (called a “direct filling”) or the juvenile court will determine whether or not the Minor is “fit” for juvenile court (called a “fitness hearing”).

Offenses Which Are Automatically Filed In Adult Court

If your child is at least 14 years old at the time of the offense, the District Attorney must file the following offenses in adult court:

  • Murder if the minor personally committed the murder and one of the special circumstances as listed in Penal code 190.2 exist.
  • Certain sex offenses where the minor personally carried out the offense and where special circumstances exist as listed in Penal code Section 667.61(d)

Juvenile Offenses that Might be Filed Directly in Adult Court

A prosecutor has the discretion, but is not required, to directly file a case in adult court in the following cases:

  • The minor is 16 years of age or older and the offense charged is one listed in Welfare and Insitutions Code 707(b).  This now includes all robbery offenses (first or second degree).
  • Any crime punishable by death or life in prison
  • Any crime in which the minor personally used a firearm.

The minor is 14 years of age or older and the offense charged is one of the following:

  • An offense that would be punishable by life in prison or death if committed by an adult. [Note: Children are NOT eligible for the death penalty]
  • A minor personally used a firearm in the commission of a felony
  • The offense is an offense listed in 707(b) with one or more of the following circumstances:
  • The minor has been previously made a Ward of the Court under Welfare and Institutions Code 602 (NOT a Dependent Ward under Sec. 300)
  • The offense is “gang related” as defined by Penal Code Sec. 186.22(f)
  • The offense is a “hate crime” as defined by Penal Code Sec. 426.6
  • The alleged victim is over 65 or disabled and the minor knew or reasonably should have known this fact.

It is important to remember that the each Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney maintains a good deal of discretion in deciding whether to file the case in adult or juvenile court.  A qualified juvenile defense attorney who is familiar with the Los Angeles County Juvenile courts may be able to intervene early with the prosecutor in an effort to keep the case in juvenile court.

What is A Juvenile Fitness Hearing?

A juvenile fitness hearing is a hearing before the juvenile court which determines whether a minor will be prosecuted as a juvenile or as an adult.  Fitness hearings fall into one of three categories:

  1. If the minor is accused of committing an offense at the age of 16 or over and has no prior offenses, the District Attorney must prove by a “preponderance of the evidence” that the Minor should be tried as an adult.
  2. If the minor is over 16 at the time of the offense and has sustained two prior felony convictions after the age of 14, the court will presume the minor should be tried as an adult.  At the fitness hearing, the defense (the minor’s lawyer) must prove by a “preponderance of the evidence” that the case should stay in juvenile court.
  3. If the minor is 14 or over and committed an offense listed in Welfare and Institutions Code 707(b), the court will presume the minor should be tried as an adult.  The defense must show by a preponderance of the evidence that the case should stay in juvenile court.

Notice that the prosecution is only required to prove “unfitness” for juvenile court in sceanrio #1.  In situations #2 and #3, it is up to the defense to prove that the case should stay in juvenile court.

Factors Considered By The Court In Determining Fitness

When deciding whether or not a juvenile will be tried as an adult or a minor, the court is required to consider the following factors:

  1. The sophistication of the current alleged crime.
  2. The likelihood that the minor can be rehabilitated before he or she “ages out” of juvenile court jurisdiction.
  3. The minor’s previous criminal/delinquency history.
  4. The success of the minor on previous probations before the juvenile court
  5. The circumstances and the gravity of the current alleged offense.

There are severe risks and consequences to you or your child’s case going to adult court rather than juvenile court.  Contact a qualified Los Angeles County juvenile defense attorney to discuss you or your child’s case.  You may call attorney Jerod Gunsberg at 310-210-0744 for a free consultation.