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§4.10 Informal Supervision

[1] Election by Probation Officer
[2] Postpetition Order
[3] Exercise of Discretion
[4] When Informal Supervision Not Available

[1] Election by Probation Officer

A probation officer may place a child under informal supervision instead of filing a WIC §602 petition. [See WIC §654.] The purpose of informal supervision is to avoid a finding of criminal culpability that would result in a criminal record. [In re Adam R (1997) 57 CA4th 348, 352–353.]

The probation officer may also elect informal supervision if the child was alleged to have violated VC §23140 or §23152 (driving under influence of alcohol or drugs). In such a case, the probation officer must have a VC §23140 or §23152 citation heard and disposed of by the court as a condition of supervision. [WIC §654.1(a).] A child who has committed one of the Vehicle Code offenses mentioned above, or one involving unlawful possession, use, sale, or furnishing of a controlled substance, must also participate in and complete a drug or alcohol education program. [WIC §654.4.]

A probation department policy that categorically excludes delinquent minors who refuse to admit an offense from consideration for informal supervision violates statutes and court rules requiring individualized assessment of a minor’s suitability for informal supervision based on specified criteria. [Kody P. v Superior Court (2006) 137 CA4th 1030, 1036–1037.]

[2] Postpetition Order

You may order informal supervision after a petition has been filed, but only if you obtain a six-month time waiver. [See WIC §654.2(a); see also §4.04[3].] You must order the child and parent or guardian to appear at the end of the six months and then at three-month intervals. You must dismiss the petition if the child successfully completes the supervision program. [WIC §654.2(a).] If the child does not complete the program, you must proceed on the petition no later than 12 months from the date it was filed. [WIC §654.2(a); see In re Anthony B. (2002) 104 CA4th 677, 681–682.]

Informal supervision is not advisable, however, if you hold a jurisdiction hearing and find allegations in the petition to be true. [In re Adam R (1997) 57 CA4th 348, 352–353.] Informal supervision must be implemented before the petition is adjudicated. [In re Abdirahman S. (1997) 58 CA4th 963, 968.] When ordering informal supervision, you should not make a true finding on the allegations in the petition. [Ricki J. v Superior Court (2005) 128 CA4th 783, 791.] Acceptance of an admission constitutes an adjudication of charges. [In re C.W. (2007) 153 CA4th 468, 474; In re Omar R. (2003) 105 CA4th 1434, 1438.]

[3] Exercise of Discretion

In determining whether a child is eligible for informal supervision, you must independently exercise your discretion and not just review the probation officer’s decision. Due process requires you to hear the child’s testimony. [In re Armondo A. (1992) 3 CA4th 1185, 1189–1191.] Your decision whether to order informal supervision may be contrary to the probation officer’s or the prosecutor’s recommendation. [Raymond B. v Superior Court (1980) 102 CA3d 372, 378–379; see Charles S. v Superior Court (1982) 32 C3d 741, 747.]

[4] When Informal Supervision Not Available

You may not order informal supervision when any of the following circumstances exist, except in an unusual case in the interests of justice [WIC §654.3]:

  • The petition alleges a serious felony [see WIC §707(b); §3.14];
  • The petition alleges sale or possession for sale of a controlled substance [see H&SC §§11053 et seq];
  • The petition alleges possession of a controlled substance [see H&SC §§11350, 11377] or a weapon, or assault with a deadly weapon, at a school [see PC §§245.5, 626.9, 626.10];
  • The petition alleges gang participation;
  • The child has previously been in informal supervision;
  • There was a prior wardship judgment;
  • The petition alleges an offense entitling the victim to restitution of more than $1,000; or
  • The child is alleged to have committed a felony when 14 years old or older.

If you have an unusual case requiring informal supervision despite the presence of one or more of the foregoing factors, you must state your reasons on the record. [WIC §654.3.]

How Would You Rule

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© 2008 by Judicial Council of California
updated as of September 2012