Juvenile Court Overview
The Shasta County Juvenile Court is made up of three distinct types of proceedings: Dependency, Delinquency, and Traffic Hearing Officer proceedings, and is headed by the Presiding Judge of the Juvenile Court.
Dependency proceedings involve the protection of children who have been or are at risk of being seriously abused, neglected or abandoned. The Department of Children and Family Services investigates allegations and is the petitioner on cases filed in the Dependency Court. Unlike Delinquency Court, Dependency Court is entirely centralized at the main courthouse.
Delinquency proceedings involve children under the age of 18 alleged to have committed a delinquent act (would be criminal if committed by an adult) or who are habitually disobedient, truant or beyond the control of a parent. Delinquency proceedings are held at the Juvenile Justice Center.
The Traffic Hearing Officer hears traffic offenses and other status offenses such as loitering, curfew, evading fares, defacing property, etc. The Traffic hearing officer proceedings are heard at the main courthouse. For information regarding citations that do not require a court appearance, refer to Juvenile Citations.
Juvenile Court Records
Shasta County Juvenile Court limits access to juvenile court records in accordance with the law and Welfare and Institutions Code Section 827.
Availability of these records is restricted to certain court personnel, the minor, parents or guardian, attorneys involved in the case, and other persons designated by the Presiding Judge of the Juvenile Court. Identification is required.
Juvenile court records may not be obtained or inspected by civil or criminal subpoena.
Why the Court Was Created
The Juvenile Dependency Court system's primary mission is to ensure that children are safe from abuse and neglect. Whenever possible the Court strives to preserve and strengthen families so children can be raised safely in their own homes. When this is not possible the Court orders the provision of a nurturing temporary foster home and supervises the care. The Court's focus then shifts to ensuring that children receive a permanent home in a timely fashion, either through reunification with their rehabilitated parents or through adoption, legal guardianship or a long-term foster care commitment.
The Dependency Court - What It Does
Most reports of child abuse do not result in any court action. In many situations, the child can be protected without court intervention. In some, reports may be faulty or false. Still others lack sufficient information to adequately support legal action. On the other hand, some reports of child abuse may involve complicated and often confusing procedures and hearings in the Juvenile Dependency Court, the Criminal Court or the Family Law Court, or all three.
The most common court action resulting from a report of child abuse occurs in the Juvenile Dependency Court. The incidents of abuse and neglect that are assessed as actually or imminently dangerous to children are referred to this Court. This legal process is intended to protect children through the use of the Court's authority. The process is initiated by the filing of a petition by the Department of Children and Family Services under Welfare & Institutions Code Section 300.
During the pendency of a Section 300 WIC proceeding, a child may be detained or may remain in the custody of a parent. The child's situation may be serious enough to warrant court action, but not pose immediate danger to the child. In such a case the child can remain safely at home while an investigation and the court hearings proceed. If the safety of the child cannot be assured at home, the child can be removed from the parents' custody and placed in protective custody.
Following the filing of a WIC 300 petition and the detention/arraignment hearing, the Court conducts additional hearings to determine whether the allegations are true, (the adjudication), and if true, whether Dependency Court jurisdiction is necessary.
At the disposition hearing, the Court decides whether the child may remain safely in the parents' home under Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) supervision (home of parent order) or must be suitably placed. The family may be ordered to participate in activities to help the family overcome the problems that brought the family before the Court. DCFS is ordered to provide services referred to as "family maintenance services" if the child remains at home or "family reunification services" if the child is placed out of the home.
Any case under the jurisdiction of the Court must be reviewed by the Court at least every six months until jurisdiction is terminated. If the child is placed out of the home, the Court conducts a hearing to establish a permanent placement plan within 12 months. The purpose of this hearing is to determine whether or not the child can be returned home or if there is a substantial probability that the child can be returned with an additional six months of reunification services. If so, the Court will continue the permanent placement hearing no more than six months in the future.
If it is determined that the child cannot be returned to the parent, the Court must decide on the most stable permanent place for the child. The Court may consider terminating parental rights and proceed to adoption or, without terminating parental rights, proceed to guardianship or long-term foster care.
A subsequent petition under Welfare & Institutions Code Section 342 may be filed to allege new facts or circumstances, other than those under which the original petition was sustained. A subsequent petition under WIC 300 may add facts or circumstances to a petition that has been previously filed. A supplemental petition under Welfare & Institutions Code Section 387 is filed to change or modify a previous order by seeking to remove a minor from the physical custody of a parent, guardian, relative, or friend and directing placement in a foster home or commitment to a private or county institution. Such a supplemental petition must state facts sufficient to support the conclusion that the previous order has not been effective in the rehabilitation or protection of the minor.
A supplemental petition under Welfare & Institutions Code section 388 allows any parent, or other person having an interest in a child, or the child to state facts sufficient to support any change of circumstance or new evidence that would require a change of previous order or termination of jurisdiction.
Frequently Asked Questions
This section provides parents and other adults with general guidance regarding questions commonly asked about Dependency Court proceedings. Court employees are available to assist you, but are prohibited by law from giving legal advice. You are encouraged to discuss any further questions with an attorney.
When is the next court date in my case? Where is my courtroom?
Availability of information on juvenile cases is restricted to certain court personnel, the minor, parents or guardian, attorneys involved in the case, and other persons designated by the Presiding Judge of the Juvenile Court. Identification will be required by the clerk's office before information about the next scheduled court date and the location of the courtroom is given. The clerk’s office is located on the third floor room 319, of the Superior Court.
How can I obtain a court-appointed attorney?
In order to request that an attorney represent you in Dependency Court, you should appear in court on the date of the next scheduled hearing and orally request an attorney.
How can I obtain a court appointed attorney before the next hearing?
If the next court hearing is not in the near future, you may request an attorney in writing and submit it to the judicial officer on the case. Be sure to include your name, the name of the child or children, the next court date, your relation to the child, and how you may be reached. You should explain why you would like an attorney and why you do not want to wait until the next scheduled court date. You may deliver the letter to the court at 1500 Court St., Room 319, Redding, CA 96001. The judicial officer will decide if you are entitled to have an attorney appointed. If you are entitled, the judicial officer may appoint an attorney even without your appearing in court. The attorney will then contact you.
How do I get a different judicial officer to hear my case?
The only way to have a different judicial officer assigned to your case after he or she has conducted a hearing is to file a motion (a formal request) with the court on the grounds that your judicial officer has an actual bias in your case. Specific examples of actual bias are that the judicial officer is related as family to one of the attorneys or parties in the case, he or she has personal knowledge about the case from outside the courtroom, or he or she has a personal financial interest in the case. The judicial officer cannot be removed solely because you think he or she dislikes you, your attorney, or any other party to the proceeding. Instead, you must present specific evidence of actual bias. If you disagree with any orders made by the judicial officer, you should discuss with your attorney whether there are grounds for a motion to remove the judicial officer or to seek a rehearing or review by the Court of Appeal.
What do I do if I did not get notice of a hearing?
If you did not get notice of a hearing, which already took place, you should contact your attorney immediately.
How do I obtain the social worker's telephone number?
The social worker's telephone number should be listed at the end of the most recent court report for your case. Sometimes it also may be found on the cover sheet.
My social worker does not call me back; my social worker does not do anything; my social worker is against me; how do I complain about the social worker?
You should start with discussing any problems you are having directly with the social worker. If you are not satisfied with his or her response, then you should contact his or her supervisor. You may want to put your complaints or issues in writing, specifically describing the problem. If you have or are entitled to an attorney, you also should contact your attorney.
How do I reopen my case?
How you attempt to "reopen" a case depends on how and why it was closed. If it was closed because your parental rights were terminated, there is no way to "reopen" the case. If it was closed because someone was appointed legal guardian of your child and circumstances have changed and you would like to try to regain custody of your child, then you may fill out a "388" petition. (388 petitions are available in the clerk's office on the third floor, room 319, in the Superior Court.) You may also obtain juvenile forms at the following website. Juvenile Forms. If you would like to reopen it because you believe the child is suffering abuse or neglect, you immediately should call the Child Abuse Hotline at 530-225-5144.
How do I get my kids back?
The answer to this question depends on many factors, including the stage of your case. Your attorney should explain your legal rights and the steps you can take to try to have your children returned to your care. The steps may include following orders that you participate in certain programs, visiting your children, and cooperating with the services provided by the social worker.
How do I stop my wife/husband from violating court orders regarding leaving the country with the children, etc.?
If you have an ongoing case in Dependency Court, you should call your attorney and your social worker immediately.
What's happening in Court - An Activity Book for Children Who Are Going to Court In California
What's Happening in Court? -- Interactive Version
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For additional information on Families, Children and the Courts please click on the link below for the Judicial Council of California, Administrative Office of the Courts Center for Families, Children and the Court.
Center for Families, Children and the Court
Adoption matters consist of petitions and hearings thereon. Examples of adoption proceedings are Petition for Adoption, Petition to Terminate Parental Rights, Petition to Determine Parent and Child Relationship, Petition for Freedom from Custody and Control, and International Adoptions. Statutes that govern adoption proceedings are found in Sections 7660-7670, 7800-7895, and 8500-9340 of the Family Code.
Confidential Nature of Proceedings
Adoption proceedings are strictly confidential and not a matter of public record. All court files, documents, reports, and decrees are processed through the Adoptions Unit. Section 9200(a) of the Family Code states in essence that petitions, reports, and all other documents filed with the court in adoption proceedings are “not open to inspection by any person other than the parties to the proceedings and their attorneys...except upon written authorization of the Judge of the Superior Court and only in exceptional circumstances. In most instances, inquiries on adoption proceedings, including photocopy requests, should be referred to the Adoptions Unit.
There are four types of Petitions for Adoption: Agency, Independent, Stepparent/Domestic Partner, and Adult. All adoption petitions are filed in the Civil Clerks office. The matter is ready to be set for hearing when the necessary documents are in the file which include the Consent and Joinder (in Dependency cases only), the Order of Adoption, the Adoption Agreement, Court Investigator’s report and in the instance of an Agency or Independent Adoption, an Adoption Expense Report. When the matter is ready to be set for hearing, the Adoptions Unit will issue any citations and notices, if necessary.
All four types of adoptions require an Adoption Agreement form as prescribed by California Rules of Court rule 5.730. During the hearing, certain parties are required to sign this form in open court. Children over the age of 12 years must also sign. If the adoption is granted, the Court will sign and date the Order of Adoption and the Adoption Agreement form.
You may reach the Adoption clerk at (530) 245-6727 or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
Also you may find the following publications on stepparent adoptions helpful:
How to adopt your Stepchild in California by Frank Zagone & Mary Randolph
Do Your Own California Adoption, Nolo’s Guide for Stepparents and Domestic Partners, by Frank Zagone, Mary Randolph, Emily Dostow & Amy Delpo
The Juvenile Delinquency Court is an integral part of the juvenile justice system. The term juvenile justice system is generally used to describe the juvenile court and other public and private community and state agencies and organizations that deal with children who may fall within the jurisdiction of the juvenile court. Other county departments within the system include the Probation Department, the Department of Social Services, the District Attorney’s Office, the Public Defender’s Office, and police agencies. Other agencies that may assist in juvenile cases include the Mental Health Department and the school system.
Currently, Juvenile Delinquency court is located in the Shasta County Juvenile Justice Center.
Delinquency proceedings involve minors charged with committing an act that would be a crime if committed by an adult. Juvenile court jurisdiction over delinquents is described in Welfare and Institutions Code Section 602. If allegations in the petition are found to be true, and if the minor is declared a ward of the court, the minor might remain at home on probation under certain conditions with removal as a possible sanction for probation violation. A minor can be immediately removed from the home and placed in another setting, which can range from a group home to Juvenile Hall or a county camp, or in the more restrictive California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
The Juvenile Court continues to give its full support and cooperation to the concerted efforts of juvenile justice system members to reach those youth in the county who are most likely to find themselves in delinquency court in the future. Programs involving education, diversion, parenting and multi-agency approaches highlighted the Court’s full commitment to supporting a wide range of community and social services intended to head off the types of problems which take youth from an “at risk’ stage to that of full-scale delinquent.
Minors may be removed from their homes to reside in a suitable placement facility. The homes can be foster or group homes, depending upon the appropriate type of setting necessary to maximize the services to be provided to ease the transition back into his or her home and community.
All camps and Halls accommodate schools that are maintained by the Shasta County Office of Education. The schools provide basic education and prepare students for GED testing, high school proficiency testing and SAT preparation.
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is the most severe form of detention for youths and is equivalent to a State Prison sentence for adults.
The Juvenile and Traffic Court has as its purpose and goal early intervention and prevention of delinquent and criminal acts. Most of the cases are not related to traffic. They are the misdemeanor and infraction violations which if not corrected early on are likely to lead to delinquent behavior.
Frequently Asked Questions
What to Do if You Have Received a Citation?
When you receive a citation from a law enforcement officer, you will be required to sign the citation giving your written promise to appear. Failure to appear is a misdemeanor and a warrant can be issued for your arrest.
Extensions and continuances cannot legally be given over the telephone. All requests must be made in person. This is because juvenile matters are confidential and to give out information or to even verify that a case exists is a misdemeanor.
On your court date you must appear with a parent or legal guardian. A legal guardian is a person who has been appointed by the court for minors whose parents have lost custody of the minor or who are no longer living. A friend or relative is not a legal guardian unless appointed by the court.
If you do not appear on your court date, the court may do one of several things. The court may issue a warrant and notify DMV to suspend your driving privileges. The court may charge only a failure to appear and notify DMV to suspend your driving privilege. If the charge is a Vehicle Code infraction, the court may conduct a trial in your absence and, if you are convicted, notify DMV that you have a failure to pay which will cause your driving privilege to be suspended.
When you appear with your parent, you will have the charges explained to you by a judicial officer and you will be asked if the charges are true or false. If you deny the charges the case will be set for a trial on a future date and you will be ordered to return to court on that date. If you admit the charges then the case will proceed to disposition immediately.
If you admit to a traffic violation which has a DMV point you will be offered the opportunity to attend traffic school which will result in dismissal of the charge if completed successfully.
Common Cases Heard in Informal Juvenile and Traffic Court.
The most common non-traffic cases cited by probation or law enforcement are: alcohol and drug violations, thefts, battery, trespassing, disturbing the peace, curfew, daytime loitering (usually called "Truancy"), the various state laws relating to loitering, graffiti, and disturbances or fare evasion on public transportation. Welfare & Institutions Code Section 257 gives the authority to a judicial officer to hear those cases enumerated in Welfare & Institutions Code Section 256 using the Notice to Appear (citation) as the pleading in lieu of a petition.
What Happens If A Minor Demands A Petition?
When a minor demands that a petition be filed the case will be transmitted to the District Attorney. In most cases the D.A. will file the petition in Informal Juvenile and Traffic Court on a special petition form authorized by section 853.6a of the Penal Code. That section allows the District Attorney to file a petition before a Judge of the Juvenile Court, a referee, or a Traffic Hearing Officer for any offense listed in Welfare & Institutions Code Section 256. In some cases the D.A. may decide to file a more serious charge and will file the case in the delinquency court.
When a case is heard on a citation, the disposition is limited by Welfare & Institutions Code Section 258. This limitation applies only to cases heard on a citation and does not address the disposition of a petitioned case. The disposition, regardless of the level of bench officer, precludes incarceration and limits fines to the amount an adult would pay for the same offense unless the offense is defined by age, such as curfew or possession of alcohol.
What Happens When A Minor Fails To Appear?
When a minor fails to appear in court, the citation is checked to assure that it is signed by the minor and that the correct appearance location is marked on the citation. There is a grace period of 24 hours before a failure to appear is charged.
For every charge filed in the Informal Juvenile and Traffic Court a failure to appear may be reported to DMV under the provisions of section 40509 of the Vehicle Code. The minor's driver's license or his right to a driver's license may be suspended. In addition a charge of failure to appear section 40508(a) of the Vehicle Code may be added.
What Happens If The Minor Feels That The Hearing Was Unjust?
Welfare & Institutions Code Section 262 provides that a minor or the minor's parent may petition the presiding judge of the juvenile court to modify, set aside, or order a rehearing of any case heard under Welfare & Institutions Code Section 257. The statement of rights which is read and signed by each minor explains the right to a rehearing. The minor must file a written request to the presiding judge within ten calendar days of the hearing.
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