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Name: People v. C.W.
Case #: A132159
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 4
Opinion Date: 07/18/2012
Summary

Juvenile court is required to give notice of the minor’s eligibility for deferred entry of judgment (DEJ) and to consider the minor’s suitability for DEJ, prior to entering a dispositional order. The minor was charged with five counts of second degree burglary. The district attorney filed a form regarding the minor’s eligibility for DEJ but did not check the box on the form reflecting that notice of eligibility had been given. During court hearings in the minor’s case there was no mention of her eligibility for DEJ. After a contested jurisdictional hearing the court sustained four of the allegations. At the dispositional hearing the minor was declared a ward and placed on probation. On appeal she challenged the trial court’s failure to consider her for DEJ. Held: Findings and dispositional order set aside and case remanded. The DEJ provisions (Welf. & Inst. Code, § 790 et seq.) allow a minor to admit the allegations of a Welfare and Institutions Code section 602 petition in lieu of jurisdictional and dispositional hearings, waive time for pronouncement of judgment, and be placed on probation. Upon successful completion of probation, the charges are dismissed. The determination whether to grant DEJ depends upon both eligibility and suitability. The prosecutor determines eligibility, filing a declaration to that effect, and notifies the minor and her attorney. The juvenile court then determines suitability. Here, the prosecutor found the minor eligible for DEJ but failed to notify her or her attorney of this finding. The court did not notify the minor or counsel either, nor did it consider her suitability for DEJ. Notice will not be presumed where the record reflects the prosecutor failed to mark the box on the DEJ declaration reflecting notice was given. The court’s mandatory duty to make a suitability finding was not excused by the minor’s failure to admit the allegations in the petition because there was no indication in the record that she was aware of her DEJ eligibility.