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Name: In re Travis J.
Case #: A137797
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 5
Opinion Date: 12/17/2013

Plea agreements that include a stipulated disposition are permissible in juvenile court proceedings. Minor entered into a plea agreement whereby he admitted specified felony charges and stipulated to commitment to the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ). In exchange, the prosecution agreed not to pursue a fitness hearing and to dismiss other counts. The court sentenced minor per the terms of the agreement. On appeal, minor contended that plea bargains are not permitted to usurp the juvenile court’s dispositional duties, relying on California Rules of Court, rule 5.778. Held: Affirmed. Plea bargaining is an accepted practice in juvenile court and can include a stipulated disposition. Minor offered no compelling reason to prevent a juvenile who is intelligent and mature enough to admit allegations in a petition from agreeing to a particular disposition. The bargain cannot constrain the sentencing court’s discretion if it finds the terms of the bargain unacceptable. However, the remedy in such a situation is for the court to reject the entire bargain; on appeal, minor cannot simply seek to improve the terms of the bargain to which he agreed. Here, the juvenile court did not abuse its discretion by accepting the stipulated commitment to DJJ.