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Name: In re T.J.
Case #: C061890
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 06/28/2010

Eligibility for the Deferred Entry of Judgment [DEJ] program (Welfare & Institutions Code section 790 et seq.) is dependent on minor’s admission of each allegation contained in the petition in lieu of the jurisdictional hearing, assuming the offense[s] is not one of those enumerated in sect. 707, subd. (b). A petition was filed alleging minor committed three counts of Penal Code section 288, subdivision (b)(1) (forcible lewd and lascivious acts on a child under the age of 14 years). Following a jurisdictional hearing the court found that the force element had not been proven, and proceeded to disposition on Penal Code section 288, subdivision (a) offenses. The court ruled that although T.J. was eligible for deferred entry of judgment, he was not suitable, and ordered probation. On appeal, T.J. argued that the court erred by finding him unsuitable. The court rejected the argument finding, contrary to the trial court’s belief, that the DEJ scheme requires a minor to admit the allegations contained in the petition in lieu of following the usual court proceedings. If a minor elects to contest allegations, he is not eligible for DEJ. And if a minor proceeds to a jurisdictional hearing where the court finds an element has not been proven, the DEJ scheme does not entitle the minor to DEJ in lieu of the hearing just conducted. Here, the initial petition rendered minor ineligible for DEJ because the offenses were included in those enumerated in section 707, subdivision (b). Further, because minor elected to contest the offenses, even if he had been offense-eligible, he was not DEJ eligible since he had not admitted the allegations in lieu of the jurisdictional hearing, as required by section 791, subdivision (a)(3), the notice provision of the DEJ scheme.