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Definition of Terms – Juvenile Probation and Court Processing

Citation issued to youth to appear before a Probation Officer or youth admitted to Juvenile Hall for allegedly committing a criminal act. Other law enforcement agencies and the courts also make referrals. Referrals go through a process of INTAKE which determines how the case is to be handled.

Offense Types
Most juvenile offenses are described in broad terms in the State of California Welfare & Institutions: 300 – Dependency, 602- Law Violations, and 601 Status offenders.  The Department of Social Services has responsibility for Dependants and Probation handles Law Violations and Status Offenders.  Law violations may be further described by an actual law violations in codes such as Vehicle, Business and Professions, Traffic, Health and Safety and Penal Code. Status offenses involve youthful behavior such as running away, beyond parental control and truancy  which would not be a crime if engaged in by an adult. Code Violations are used for referral reasons, petition reasons and petition sustained reasons.

Counts  Law violations may involve “counts” which describe the number of instances of a particular crime.  For example four different burglaries could be filed as four counts of burglary.

Levels of Offense
  The level means felony, misdemeanor or infraction.  The length of time one could conceivably  spend in jail is defined by  the level, felony being the most serious and misdemeanor the least.  Infractions do not involve jail time.

707 of the Welfare and Institutions Code
is a specific offense category.  This involves a court process where youth are “waived”, “remanded” to the adult court as “unfit” for the services of the Juvenile Court. Proposition 21 refers to specified crimes in 707(b) which must be handled in a particular way. These crimes are very serious such as rape, murder or kidnapping. Proposition 21 provides for the District Attorney to prosecute these crimes without the Juvenile Court Judge’s determination using what is termed a direct filing.   Youth who are in Juvenile Hall will remain there even when they have been remanded until they reach age 18 years, because in California the jail must comply with the law which forbids keeping youth ”in sight and sound” of adult prisoners.

This is a term is the same as referral and used within the Probation department to describe the number  of referrals. Events on the computer are referred to as “contacts”.  Each contact represents a “unit of work” for the Department.  The collection of contacts on a report is referred to as the “rap sheet”.

Youth are delivered to Juvenile Probation by a law enforcement agency for further processing.  A decision must be made within hours (72) about the continued detention of the minor.  The majority of youth will be released within the first three days.  If the youth is to stay in custody, then a petition must be filed and presented to the Court with the youth present.

Alternatives to Detention
Most youth will be released to parents/guardians, often within hours of delivery to Juvenile Hall or the Crisis Assessment and Receiving Center (CARC). Often they are required to return at another time so their release is considered “conditional”, depending upon their return to the Department for further processing, sanctions. The SFJPD has a program of Home detention.  The department also contracts out shelter care for youth pending disposition and placement youth in an attempt to keep secure detention to a minimum.

Admission to Juvenile Hall
The process of admitting a juvenile to Juvenile Hall is referred to as a  ‘booking’ or a ‘book-in’, depending upon the county of jurisdiction.

Police Citation
A common  method of referral is the police citation.  Police give a “ticket” or citation to the youth directing him or her to report to the Probation Department.  Most Probation referrals come by this method.  The assigned Probation officer will make an appointment with the juvenile to review and discuss the case.

Transfer in
The case of a youth whose parents reside in San Francisco and who commits an offense in another county, will be returned to San Francisco for disposition of the offense.   Cases are transferred from other jurisdictions either in custody or out of custody because we are the court of jurisdiction and will further adjudicate the case.

Transfer out
The adjudicated  case of a youth whose legal residence is outside of San Francisco will be transferred to the jurisdiction of the residence of the youths’ parent or guardian for disposition.

Referral reasons, petition reasons and petition sustained reasons,
are all part of the various legal codes in the State of California.  San Francisco uses the Department of Justice tables for entering this data, in part, because reporting to the State is done through the computerized Juvenile Justice Information System (JJIS) and this ensures consistency and correct reporting.  The referral reason is  reason that the case was referred to Probation.  The petition reason is the offense allegedly committed which is placed on the written petition to the court.  It is prepared by the District Attorney’s office, the initial investigation is conducted by the Probation Officer. The petition reason is the offense the court determined was “true”. It is termed the ‘sustained” petition or charge.  This often evolves out of a process of “plea bargaining” as lawyers barter to use “lesser included” crimes and to prosecute the case.

Court Disposition
The court has a number of “dispositional” alternatives.  They can dismiss the case, transfer to jurisdiction of residence, make the youth a ward of the court, place him/her on informal probation or voluntary probation.  More stringent alternatives could be a commitment to out of home placement, Log Cabin Ranch or the California Youth Authority.

There are three basic types of probation: Probation without wardship: Voluntary (654 W&I), Informal (725A) W&I) and Formal or Wardship Probation (725b/602 W&I).

The Court has a special, legal relationship with the child and may act as the “parent” (parens patriae). These cases are placed on active supervision either at home, with a relative, or the youth is removed from the home.

Out of Home Placement
The Court establishes wardship and determines the youth should be placed “out of home”.  This is more serious than informal probation or probation at home with parents, but less restrictive than Log Cabin Ranch or the California Youth Authority. Placement it is with a state licensed group home or institution.  Placement may be local, in another jurisdiction or rarely out of State.

Combined Dispositions
On occasion, a youth may have a number of probation “events” involving a petition filing within a short period of time.  When this happens, the events may be “bundled” into a single disposition or outcome.

‘725 W & I’ Probation
is Informal or ‘non-wardship’ probation.  Jurisdiction is terminated in six (6) months.  The youth will be supervised by a Probation Officer.

‘654’ W&I
is termed Voluntary Probation. It may be ordered by the court as ‘dismissed in favor of voluntary probation’ or by the Probation Officer as a result of his case management.  Probation Officer initiated voluntary probations are not reflected on the flow chart.

Courtesy Supervision 
On occasion youth who are on probation in another jurisdiction may move to San Francisco.  The origination jurisdiction may request SFJPD to supervise the juvenile in their stead. Reciprocally, SFJPD may request courtesy supervision from another jurisdiction if the juvenile moves into their area.

California Youth Authority
The State of California has a number of facilities throughout the State that house juvenile offenders up to the age of 25. Thus, commitments to the California Youth Authority (CYA) may originate in either the juvenile or adult court.  CYA will also receive youth who have been  remanded under 707 W & I.

This category will include dispositions such as California Youth Authority psychiatric evaluations.  Youth may also undergo a 90 day evaluation period on occasion to determine their suitability for placement at CYA.

These are petitions which may be dismissed for reasons such as ‘lack of prosecution’, ‘lack of evidence’ , ‘lack of prosecution’  or in favor of some other category as in favor of 654  or 707. In some instances charges are dismissed entirely.  A prior finding may keep the juvenile on active status.

This term refers to the W & I Code 707.  It covers both specific offenses and the court processing.  The Court may elect to hold a “fitness” hearing to determine whether the case should be handled by the Adult Court. Remanded means the case was referred to the Adult Court for processing.  Some jurisdictions refer to this as a “waiver”.


Last updated: 4/8/2010 12:06:09 PM