Opinions from the Court of Appeal sometimes give you a glimpse into the lives of the relevant individuals at issue. Including types of lives that you might not otherwise be extraordinarily familiar with in your immediate surroundings. And you have to try to piece together what's going on.
Sometimes that's fairly easy. Sometimes it's not.
For example, today, I'm not totally sure what I think is going on with the juvenile here. Sometimes I think he's shaping up. Sometimes I think he's not.
I probably end with the conclusion that, maybe, he's on the edge. And that my intuitions here are not especially well-founded.
Though, if he's on the edge, truly, I hope for the best for him.
Here's his initial scoop:
"In September 2014, the Sonoma County District Attorney filed a section 602
wardship petition charging minor A.V., age 15, with felony possession of marijuana for
sale and misdemeanor possession of concentrated cannabis. (Health & Saf. Code,
§§ 11359, 11357, subd. (a).) Three juveniles were caught with hash oil and an electronic
vapor cigarette on their high school campus. One of the juveniles told the police he
bought them from A.V. When questioned by police, A.V. admitted he sold the items to
his classmate. He later admitted to probation he used marijuana regularly."
You read stuff like that all the time. Not a good sign. But not unusual. A 15-year old doing drugs and getting probation.
"A.V. admitted the truth of the allegations with the understanding the court would
consider placing him on deferred entry of judgment (DEJ) probation. At disposition, the
court placed A.V. on DEJ probation on the conditions, among others, that he complete
150 hours of community service work, write a 1,000-word essay about the effects of
marijuana on the adolescent brain, refrain from using or possessing alcohol or drugs,
particularly marijuana, and participate in and complete outpatient substance abuse
On March 2, 2015, probation filed a report indicating that A.V. was regularly
attending school, passing all of his classes, had zero disciplinary referrals, was actively
working towards completion of his community service hours and was attending an
alcohol and drug offender class. He had tested negative for intoxicating substances since
his review hearing in December 2014."
Hey now! All right. Well done. Maybe the intervention here made a difference. Seems like he's cleanup up his act.
"Then, on March 4 and 17, probation filed notices of noncompliance, alleging A.V.
violated his DEJ probation by using marijuana and cocaine. On March 2, he tested
positive for THC and cocaine. He also tested positive for THC on March 18. On April 1,
2015, probation reported that A.V. admitted he had smoked some marijuana he had
acquired before he was placed on probation, because he was depressed about a medical
diagnosis he had received. He was unsure why he tested positive for cocaine, because he
did not use cocaine."
Aw, man! Now he's backsliding. And may well be adding cocaine to the mix. That's not good at all. Not at all what we want to see. All that progress for naught.
"On April 9, 2015, the court vacated deferred entry of judgment, imposed
judgment, declared A.V. a ward of the court, and placed him on juvenile probation on the
same and additional conditions of probation, including fines and DNA testing. . . . On April 20, 2015, the probation department filed a notice of probation violation
(§ 777) alleging that A.V. used marijuana and violated his 7:00 p.m. curfew and the terms
of his community detention, by testing positive for marijuana on April 9, 2015, and
leaving his house in the middle of the night while on community detention."
Jeeze. Now I'm feeling super bad about where this is going. Seen it before. Too many times. Sad to see the promise I had hoped from the outset be wasted.
"On October 19, 2015, the probation department filed a notice of probation
violation (§ 777) alleging that A.V. used marijuana on October 12 and was cited by police for possessing marijuana on school grounds on October 16. On October 20, 2015,
A.V. admitted he violated his probation."
Yep. So much down the wrong path that, even with all of this, he's even taking his weed to school.
"On November 18, 2015, probation reported that since October 20, 2015, A.V. had
followed his court-ordered conditions of probation and abided by his parents’ directives.
He was helpful around the house and respectful to his parents. He was a junior in high
school, was passing all of his classes, and did not have any tardies, unexcused absences,
or behavioral referrals. He had completed Interactive Journaling, and spent most of his
summer break successfully completing 150 hours of community service. He had
competed three weekends of weekend work crew and was attending drug and alcohol
counseling once a week. He had submitted two chemical tests since October 19; both
showed diminishing levels of THC."
Seriously?! Dude! That's what we want to see! And I'm not the only one, either. Sayeth the judge: "All right. [A.], this is the kind of report we want to see. This is great.
I’m glad to see you’re doing so well at school, getting tested, testing clean. You’ve done
your community service and everything else we’ve thrown at you. Now we want a
period of no violations.” “If you continue the good behavior you had from the last VOP
to this date going forward, I think you will end up with a dismissal in February. But you
have to show us you can do it for more than a couple months.”
Spot on. Fingers crossed!
"In February 2016, probation reported on A.V.’s progress. A.V. had completed all
of his conditions of probation, including 150 hours of community service, Interactive
Journaling, and substance abuse counseling. A.V. spent his free time with his girlfriend
and applying for jobs. His mother described his behavior at home as “exceptional.”
Since A.V.’s last hearing in November 2015, he had submitted five chemical tests, all of
them negative for intoxicating substances. He had no disciplinary issues or unexcused
absences at school."
Yes! Finally. It's catching. Maybe all this is actually working. Belatedly. But maybe there's hope we're actually -- actually -- making a difference.
"However, his grades had suffered. He had one A, three Ds and was failing English and algebra. On February 19, 2016, the court expressed overall
satisfaction with the report but continued the matter to April for evidence of improved
grades. On April 25, 2016, probation reported that A.V. had brought his F in English up to
a D. He now had one C, four Ds and an F in algebra. A.V. reported he was working
toward improving his grades so he could return to his high school of choice in the fall.
He had no disciplinary issues or unexcused absences. Mother continued to find A.V.
well behaved and helpful at home. He walked the family dog almost daily, cleaned the
pool, and worked from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. as a dishwasher at a local restaurant
several nights a week. Since the last hearing in February, A.V. had submitted six more
chemical tests, all negative for intoxicating substances. The probation department
recommended “that all proceedings be dismissed” because A.V. had “completed all of his
Court ordered obligations, has continued to submit chemical tests negative for
intoxicating substances, and is now actively employed.”"
And that's how it ends.
The performance is spotty, but you have hope. The grades make you worried, but again, you have hope.
Yet I don't feel like the fight is over here. I honestly don't know how this eventually turns out.
In particular, whether we ultimately see A.V., as an adult, in some future addition of the California Appellate Report.
Let's hope not. Let's hope for the best.