Juveniles Not Paying for Court-Ordered Batterer’s Intervention Program

When Minor [M] was seventeen years old, he was arrested for numerous counts of sexual assaulting his girlfriend.  The People of the State of California filed a petition to have him found as a ward of the juvenile court, and the petition was granted.

Later, M pleaded to one count of willful infliction of corporal injury.  The juvenile court sentenced M to one year’s probation under his mother’s care, under the supervision of the probation department [PD].

As one of M’s conditions of probation, he was ordered by the PD to complete 52 weeks of its Batterers Intervention Program.  The PD stated, had a “pattern of engaging in violent behavior, as well as inappropriateness with females... “[He] must address his tendency to . . . respond to his emotions in a dangerous way, and reduce the risk of escalation and future violence through treatment, The cost of the program was $153.00 per month; about $1800.00 for the entire program. 

Neither M nor his parents had the finances to pay for this program, and requested it be paid for by the PD.  The PD said it could not do so without further instructions of the juvenile court.  The juvenile court denied M’s request for the PD to pay the cost.  M appealed.

The Appellate Court first determined that M’s case was ripe for appellate review, meaning the Appellate Court should address the issue to prevent court cases like his in the future.

Secondly, the Appellate Court reversed the juvenile court’s ruling:

“The juvenile court ordered [M] to enroll in the program as a probation condition; [M] did so, and the court refused to order the probation department to pay the cost. As a practical matter, [M] or his family must pay for the program because the only alternative is to violate a probation condition. Moreover, it makes no difference that the juvenile court is willing to hold a hearing on [M’s] ability to pay, because there is no statutory authority for imposing the cost of [M.’s] treatment on him or his family, he has no duty to request such a hearing...

“…Moreover, Senate Bill No. 190 (2017-2018 Reg. Sess.) (Stats. 2017, ch. 678) amended the Welfare and Institutions code to make most liability provisions inapplicable where, as here, the minor at issue has been deemed a ward of the juvenile court.

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