A disposition hearing is a sentencing hearing. The main purpose of the juvenile court sentence should be rehabilitation.
In determining a disposition, the court must consider the age of the minor, circumstances and gravity of the offense, and previous delinquent behavior.
Disposition Hearing Time Requirements
If the minor is detained, the court may continue the case for up to 10 days for disposition. If the minor is not detained, the court may continue the case for up to 30 days after the petition was filed and may continue for additional 15 days if good cause is shown.
Disposition Hearing Process
A dispositional report is prepared, filed with the court, and given to all parties at least 48 hours prior to the disposition hearing. The report will contain a recommended disposition from the probation department. The defense and prosecution can present evidence including documents and witnesses to the court to consider regarding the final disposition of the case.
Disposition Hearing Decisions
The court has 3 choices at the disposition hearing. The court can (1) dismiss the case, (2) place the minor on probation for up to 6 months without wardship, or (3) declare the minor a ward of the court and order any disposition allowed by law.
Standard probation terms include ordering the minor to attend school without absence, obey a curfew, and for the minor and parent or guardian to participate in counseling. A minor has no right to refuse reasonable probation terms. If drugs or alcohol are involved, probation may include treatment. Certain sex offenses will require sex offender treatment.
When wardship is declared the court has many options at its disposal from placing the minor on probation and allowing the minor to remain in the home to committing the minor to custody. The court may make any order for care, supervision, custody, conduct, maintenance, support for a child made a ward of the court.
Wardship without supervision
A minor made a ward of the court may be placed on probation without supervision and ordered to comply with reasonable probation conditions.
Wardship with Supervision
In most cases, wardship comes with supervised probation.
Removal from custody of Parent or Guardian
For a court to remove a minor from the custody of a parent or guardian, the court must find that (1) the minor’s parent or guardian failed to provide or is incapable of providing proper maintenance, training, and education, (2) the minor has failed to reform while in the custody of the parent or guardian, and (3) the minor’s welfare requires removal from the parent or guardian.
Confinement is mandatory for minors responsible for committing a violent felony with a firearm.
A minor may be ordered confined by placement in juvenile hall, camp, ranch, or foster home. If a minor is placed outside of the home, reunification services must be offered to the family. Minors placed in foster care must be placed in a safe environment that best meets the needs of the minor. Placement with relatives is preferred.
If a minor commits a new criminal offense, a violation of probation may be filed by the prosecutor. The standard of proof of a violation of probation is by a preponderance of the evidence. Procedural requirements must still be followed if the confinement of the juvenile is requested by the prosecution.