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Your child must be at least 16 years old and have committed a very serious offense as defined in the California Penal Code to be charged as an adult. The District Attorney considers the degree of criminal sophistication, the youth’s potential for rehabilitation, previous criminal history, whether the youth responded to previous attempts at rehabilitation, and the circumstances and gravity of the present offense.
Some offenses that would be considered as serious offenses include the following or attempting the following; murder, arson, robbery, sex offenses involving force or fear, kidnapping, torture, mayhem, carjacking, voluntary manslaughter, escape by means of force or violence, or crimes that involve the use of a weapon or result in great bodily injury.
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The police report will be forwarded to the Probation Department. Based on what is in the police report, the Probation Department will decide what the next steps will be. Some options are to have the case handled informally or to request a petition be filed by the District Attorney and that the minor go to Court. The Probation Department can decide to keep a youth in Juvenile Hall or release them to a parent or guardian. If a petition is filed by the District Attorney, a Deputy Probation Officer will be assigned to do an investigation and write a report to the Court with recommendations.
The Probation Department cannot give any legal advice. There is a Public Defender’s Office, where someone is available to speak to you. The phone number for the Public Defender’s Office is (707) 253-4442.
The Probation Department does not have the authority to release police reports. To obtain a copy, go to the Police Department that made the arrest. They will determine when or if the police report can be released to you. You may also submit a request to the Court that the Police Department release the report.
Youth are released to a parent or guardian or kept at Juvenile Hall based on the seriousness of the crime, their criminal history, and other information regarding whether or not they pose a threat to the community or are at risk of not showing up at their next Court date. The Probation Department only makes recommendations to the Court. It is the Judge’s decision to determine how long youth will stay in custody and under what conditions they will be released. The Judge will consider the seriousness of the offense, if there have been previous contacts with law enforcement agencies, and how likely the youth is to appear for their next court date, among other things.
Parents are responsible for paying all restitution. Even if there is more than one defendant responsible, each defendant is jointly and severally responsible to make sure the victim(s) is/are compensated.
Just you and your child. Both parents are not necessary, but are encouraged to attend. Have your child dress appropriately for Court. Jeans, sweats, t-shirts, shorts and other casual attire are not appropriate. The Judge prefers professional attire. Arrive early so you have some time to speak with someone from the Public Defender’s Office. Put together a list of questions ahead of time to save time and to make sure you get all of your questions answered. Do not bring food, drink, or cell phones. They will not be allowed in the Court area.
There will be a lot of wait time. Plan enough time off from work. Your first court date is called a Detention Hearing. At this Court appearance, you will be notified of the charges your child is facing. After Court, you will be asked to make contact with a Deputy Probation Officer, who will begin to gather information for their report to the Court.
The second court date is called Jurisdictional Hearing. This is when the Courts attempt to resolve cases without going to trial. The Deputy Probation Officer will have completed a report with recommendations to the Court. The District Attorney, your child’s Attorney, a Deputy Probation Officer, and the Judge will attempt to come to an agreement. If you, your child and your child’s Attorney are satisfied with the recommendation, your child will be asked if they admit to the charges and then the petition will be “sustained,” which means the charge has been determined by the Court to be true. In Adult Court, someone is convicted, but with a juvenile, the charges are sustained. If you, your child or your child’s Attorney are not satisfied with the recommendation or assert that your child is not guilty of the charges, then the case can be held for a Contested Jurisdictional Hearing.
At a Contested Jurisdictional Hearing evidence is presented and witnesses are questioned. Based on the evidence presented, the Judge (Juvenile Courts do not have juries) will make a determination of innocence or guilt. If the petition is sustained, the Court may impose Court Orders at that time or continue the matter for a Dispositional Hearing. The Probation Officer will also prepare a report and make recommendations for that hearing, which the Judge will consider and then make the appropriate Court Orders.
No. Juvenile Hall does not accept youth who have not been charged with a crime. Only those youth who have committed a crime and are seen as a danger to society or a flight risk are detained.
Your child’s Deputy Probation Officer should be in touch with you in a timely manner to set up an initial meeting. Based on the seriousness of the crime and the needs of the child and family, your child will be assigned to a Deputy Probation Officer in a particular unit. The amount of intervention will be based on the status and conditions of probation ordered by the Judge.
You can expect your child to be contacted at school. In most cases, you can also expect Deputy Probation Officers to make home visits. If search and seizure is imposed, they may search your child’s room and all common areas of your residence (all areas the child has access to). Deputy Probation Officers may do this on their own, with another Deputy Probation Officer, and/or with local Police Officers and/or the Gang Task Force. The frequency and type of contact will be based on the level of supervision that meets the needs of the child, in an effort to prevent continued criminal or delinquent behavior.
If chemical testing orders are imposed, your child may be tested for the use of drugs and alcohol. You and/or your child may be required to attend programs and treatment. There could be additional Court dates to check on the status of your child’s performance on probation.
The Deputy Probation Officer assigned to your child after disposition will contact you when assigned your child’s case. Prior to that, you may contact the Juvenile Probation Department at 707-253-4361 and the receptionist will assist you. Keep in mind that this information is confidential and the staff may want reassurance that you are entitled to that information.
Unlike the Adult Probation system, there is no set amount of time that a youth can be on formal probation. The youth will remain on probation until they meet all of the conditions of their probation or commit a new offense as an adult. The Judge is the only one who can release a child from the terms of their probation.
If the youth turns 18 and commits a new crime as an adult, often times the Juvenile Court will terminate juvenile probation. The Juvenile Court can maintain jurisdiction until the youth reaches the age of 21 and in some cases the age of 25.
Informal Probation and Diversion are generally a maximum of six months.