Los Angeles Juvenile Defense Attorney

Posts Tagged ‘welfare and institutions code’

Sealing an “Un-sealable” Juvenile Record

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

I often get calls from frustrated adults who decades ago had a serious or violent felony criminal charge sustained against them in juvenile court and are now finding out that they are unable to get their juvenile records sealed or the cases dismissed and set aside.  This is a terrible situation, usually decades have passed since their teenage troubles and the people I speak with are now productive members of the community. They have jobs and families and lead law abiding lives.  They are often seeking professional licenses or are up for job promotions or are required to submit to routine background checks – only to find that a very serious juvenile felony still follows them around.

Why is this?

Under California law, if as a juvenile you had a petition sustained against you for a criminal offense listed under Welfare and Institutions Code Section 707(b) and the offense was committed after you were 14 years old, you cannot have your record sealed.

Unfortunately, the California Supreme Court has determined that the expungement/dismissal statute (PC 1203.4) does not apply to juvenile cases. If you are really interested, check out a case called In Re Chong K (2006) 145 CA4th 13.

Here’s an even more ridiculous situation:  If you went to the Youth Authority (now called Division of Juvenile Justice) and successfully completed time there, once you were paroled your case could be dismissed pursuant Welfare and Institutions Code Section 1772.  But someone who was committed of the same offense, but only sent to a probation camp instead of YA/ DJJ is NOT eligible to have the charges dismissed.  Yes, you read that right.  Because someone is given a less severe punishment (camp) rather than a more severe punishment (YA /DJJ), that person penalized for it now.


So can anything be done?  It depends.  Some courts might be willing to reduce an “unsealable” charge down to a “sealable” charge.  For example:  A court might be convinced to reduce a robbery (Penal Code 211) down to grand theft (Penal Code 487 (a)-(c)).  The robbery is not sealable, the grand theft is sealable.  There are numerous other scenarios, this is just one example.

There is no legal procedure or provision in any code section that allows the sealing of unsalable juvenile records.  It is done in the court’s discretion and in the vast majority of cases, it is helpful for the DA to sign off on it as well.

This is not an easy process, but it can be done under the right circumstances.  The right circumstances usually include that you’ve not picked up any adult cases (or any adult case was very minor and happened a long time ago).  This takes a lot of work and fortitude, but it can be done.

If you would like to contact me to discuss the matter, I will review the case free of charge and can tell you whether or not there is even a possibility that this can be accomplished.  I am an experienced juvenile defense attorney. You can contact my office at 310-210-0744 if you wish to discuss it further.

Probation Conditions in Juvenile Cases

Saturday, December 26th, 2009

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 a minor on 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

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 (often referred to as “654″):

  • If a case is filed, the District Attorney and/or The Court may agree to informal diversion.  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 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 (often referred to as “725″)

  • If a minor is charged with a misdemeanor, he or she may be available for a six-month deferred entry of judgment.  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 Judgment (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, the offense cannot be a “serious or violent felony” (see Welfare and Institutions Code 707(b));   the minor must not have had his/her probation revoked in another matter.

It is important to speak with a qualified juvenile criminal 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 The Law Offices of Jerod Gunsberg for a free consultation.