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Name: In re D.L.
Case #: C067525
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 05/17/2012

Appellant, a minor, was deprived of the opportunity for a hearing and deprived of fundamental procedural rights when the juvenile court did not follow specified procedures in determining appellant’s suitability for deferred entry of judgment (DEJ). A juvenile wardship petition was filed charging appellant with various offenses. The prosecutor filed a determination of eligibility for DEJ in compliance with statutory requirements. At a trial readiness conference, the court found appellant was eligible but not suitable for DEJ without a hearing. Following a contested jurisdictional hearing, the court sustained the petition. On appeal, appellant contended that the juvenile court erred by failing to hold a required DEJ hearing. The Court of Appeal agreed. It is the mandatory duty of the juvenile court to either grant DEJ summarily or examine the record, conduct a hearing, and determine whether the minor is suitable for DEJ. Appellant was entitled to notice of when the DEJ suitability hearing would take place and he received none. The court did not indicate at any hearing that appellant’s suitability for DEJ was under consideration. Appellant did not have a full and fair opportunity to request DEJ and did not have an opportunity to present his evidence and objections because the court did not follow specified procedures. He did not remove himself from consideration for DEJ by denying the allegations because he entered denials after the court determined he was not suitable for DEJ. The adjudication and disposition orders were vacated.