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Name: In re N.R.
Case #: B278221
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 6
Opinion Date: 09/21/2017

Juvenile court did not abuse its discretion by lifting minor’s deferred entry of judgment based on minor’s decision to discontinue his education in violation of his probation terms. In a juvenile delinquency proceeding, appellant admitted driving a vehicle without consent (Veh. Code, § 10851, subd. (a)) and admitted that he was failing his high school classes. The juvenile court granted deferred entry of judgment with terms of probation that required appellant to attend school every day, maintain at least a C grade in each class, and participate in a program to obtain a high school diploma or GED. Appellant complied with these terms satisfactorily for the most part for several months, but then dropped out of school to pursue full-time employment. At this point, N.R. was an adult and the probation officer reported that he had exhausted all juvenile resources. The court lifted DEJ, declared him a ward of the court, and terminated jurisdiction. N.R. requested that the court seal his record under Welfare and Institutions Code section 786, and the court declined. He appealed, arguing the court abused its discretion in lifting DEJ based on his decision to discontinue his education. Held: Affirmed. If a minor fails to comply with the terms of his probation, “the court shall lift the [DEJ] and schedule a dispositional hearing.” (Welf. Inst. Code, § 793, subd. (a).) Appellant argued that the court’s reliance on his failure to attend school and maintain passing grades was “unusually counterproductive” because the purpose of the condition was to “enhance his ability to maintain prospective employment.” The juvenile court’s decision was not punitive nor counterproductive because it created a continuing incentive for appellant to complete his education. The juvenile court’s decision to lift DEJ also did not violate the spirit of the law because there is a well known correlation between education and the crime rate. “A court may reasonably conclude a juvenile, without an adequate education, is more likely to resort to criminal activities.” (In re Angel J. (1992) 9 Cal.App.4th 1096, 1101.)

Juvenile court did not abuse its discretion in declining to order appellant’s records sealed pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code sections 793 or 786. On appeal, N.R. also argued that the juvenile court abused its discretion in refusing to dismiss the petition and order his records sealed under either section 793 or section 786. The Court of Appeal disagreed. If a minor has performed satisfactorily during the period in which DEJ was granted, at the end of that period the court shall dismiss the charges against the minor and seal the record. (Welf. Inst. Code, § 793, subd. (c).) Section 786 provides an alternative procedure for dismissing petitions and sealing records when a ward “satisfactorily completes . . . a term of probation for any offense.” Because appellant made a deliberate choice to drop out of school, the court reasonably found he had not substantially complied with the terms of his probation such that he was ineligible for a dismissal and sealing under either section 793 or section 786. The court distinguished N.R.’s situation from the facts set forth in In re A.V. (2017) 11 Cal.App.5th 697, in which the juvenile court recognized minor’s positive performance on probation and dismissed the petition, but erred by declining to seal the record. In N.R.’s case, the juvenile court expressly declined to dismiss the 602 petition. The court’s termination of jurisdiction cannot reasonably be construed as an implicit finding that appellant had substantially complied with probation terms for purposes of 786.

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: