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Name: In re Esperanza C.
Case #: D051521
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 08/07/2008

The juvenile court has authority to review the department’s denial of a criminal records exemption. The minor and her mother appealed orders denying their 388 modification petitions, contending that the court abused its discretion when it determined it did not have jurisdiction to review the department’s denial of a criminal records exemption for the prospective adoptive father. The appellate court agreed and reversed the order. The juvenile court has jurisdiction to review the agency’s denial of a criminal records exemption for abuse of discretion, and if the court determines the agency has abused its discretion, the court’s authority is limited to directing the agency to consider the request for an exemption under the appropriate legal standard. Here, the agency concluded that the conviction at issue (a Penal Code section 272 conviction) was nonexemptible. Unless the agency had a record that the prospective father was convicted of lewd and lascivious behavior under section 272, its classification of the offense as nonexemptible was erroneous as a matter of law. Reversal was required because without reversal the court could not properly consider the minor’s chance to be placed with a relative.