Under Welfare and Institutions Code section 786, a ward’s compliance with probation cannot be satisfactory for dismissal purposes but unsatisfactory for record-sealing purposes. After A.V. completed juvenile probation, the court dismissed the Welfare and Institutions Code section 602 petition but declined to seal his record because he had suffered a few probation violations. A.V. appealed. Held: Reversed. When a ward “satisfactorily completes” probation, section 786 provides streamlined procedures for dismissing the section 602 petition and sealing the juvenile’s record to make it as if the arrest had never occurred. A ward “satisfactorily completes” probation if he has no new findings of wardship, felony convictions, or misdemeanor convictions involving moral turpitude, and “has not failed to substantially comply with the reasonable orders of supervision or probation that are within his capacity to perform.” After analyzing section 786 and its legislative history, the court concluded that, if a ward substantially complies for purposes of dismissal, he has also complied for purposes of sealing: “nothing in the statutory language suggests that, under this statute, the court may apply a looser standard of satisfactory completion or substantial compliance to measure whether a ward’s conduct on probation warrants dismissal of the petition, and a stricter standard of satisfactory completion or substantial compliance to measure whether sealing records pertaining to the dismissed petition is warranted.” This interpretation is consistent with the purpose of section 786, which is “to speed up and facilitate the reentry into mainstream society, rehabilitation, and employability of juveniles with nonserious, nonviolent delinquency histories.” Because the juvenile court applied a stricter standard to sealing A.V.’s record than it did to dismissal, the court reversed and remanded.
The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/A148307.PDF