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Name: In re A.I.
Case #: C058506
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 08/25/2009

A minor is not precluded from receiving deferred entry of judgment (DEJ) when he first litigates a suppression hearing, as long the jurisdictional hearing has not commenced. Following the filing of a petition, the prosecutor determined the minor was statutorily eligible for DEJ, and the juvenile court found him eligible and suitable for the program. Rather than accepting DEJ at that point, the minor indicated that he wished to litigate a suppression motion, but agreed that if the motion was denied, he would stipulate to use of the testimony from the hearing on the motion at a jurisdictional hearing. Following denial of the suppression motion, the minor said that he wished to accept DEJ, but the court stated that it was “off the table.” Under section 790, the DEJ program is in lieu of the jurisdictional and dispositional hearings. Although a minor may litigate pretrial motions before accepting DEJ, once a jurisdictional hearing commences, the minor is no longer eligible. Here, the prosecutor and Attorney General argued that where a minor stipulated to the use of testimony from the suppression hearing at the jurisdictional hearing, the stipulation and commencement of the suppression hearing were akin to the jurisdictional hearing. The appellate court disagreed, observing that there is nothing in the statute that could be interpreted as requiring minor to accept DEJ prior to the suppression hearing in the situation where he stipulates that suppression hearing testimony could be used for purposes of the jurisdictional hearing. In this case, the record shows that the jurisdictional hearing did not commence with the suppression hearing and, therefore, the minor timely requested DEJ. The court cautioned that it would be prudent in such cases for counsel and the court to clarify that a stipulation does not equate to commencement of trial.