What Is Home on Probation (HOP) in a Juvenile Case?

In every juvenile case, there are various ways that the case can be resolved. 
One of the most common ways is allowing the juvenile to return home, but under the promise to obey certain conditions set by the probation department and to obey his or her parents (or grandparents, if applicable).  This is called “Home on Probation” or HOP.

What is HOP exactly?  It is probation in the sense that an adult would be ordered to formal probation (also often called felony probation) insofar as there is an assigned probation officer that the minor must meet with regularly.  The probation officer will usually set strict conditions on the minor’s whereabouts, i.e. if not at school, at meetings or performing community service, the minor ought to be at home.
 
At the meetings with the probation officer, the minor and his parents discuss the minor’s grades, school attendance and behavior at home.  The meetings may conclude with a urine test to monitor the minor’s use of controlled substances, if that is an issue.

The probation department is free to assign the minor additional conditions beyond what a judge may have ordered.  While this is not common, it can happen.  Such condition may include a certain number of hours of community service (some form of volunteer work) and depending upon the underlying offense and its causes, alcohol education classes, drug education classes, anger management classes, theft prevention classes or sexual compulsiveness classes.  
The probation department may also require that the minor wear a GPS location monitoring device.

Not everyone is qualified for HOP, so if the judge or the prosecutor mentions HOP as a way to resolve the case, the probation department must first confirm that the home environment is suitable for such a program.  An evaluation of this includes consideration of whether the minor and his parents get along, whether there is adequate transportation for the minor to perform community service and/or attend counseling and whether there are other people living at the house that are on parole or probation.

If the home environment is not appropriate, the minor may be instead placed in a foster home or group home.
 
When one of our clients is assigned to HOP, we stress first and foremost that the minor must get along with the probation officer.  It is a huge mistake to argue with the probation officer or display a rebellious attitude, as much as it would be enjoyable to do so.
 
We also stress “just play the game.”  This means get good grades, don’t be late for school, don’t miss school, do the community service ASAP and behave at home.

We recommend this because if our client is removed from HOP because the probation officer recommends this and the judge so orders, the client faces a foster or group home, a probation department boot camp, or even the California Youth Authority (CYA), now called California Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ).
 
A probation department “boot camp” is a locked facility for juveniles.  It can be rough.  The client is housed alongside other minors who have committed serious crimes and, consequently, were denied HOP due to the risk to public safety. 

Other minors are there because they, too, failed out of HOP.  The camp is highly structured, with traditional academic classes so the client can continue with his or her education, but there are also counseling type classes to address alcohol addiction, narcotic addiction or anger management.  The camp can last up to a year.

Being sent to DDJ is basically prison for juveniles.  The sentence can be as short as a year and as long as seven years.  When the client is released from DDJ, they are placed on parole just like an adult released from prison.  Parole can last up to age 26.
 
In short, HOP is relatively light form of punishment and a great alternative to being in custody.

For more information about the issues in this article, click on the following articles:
  1. What is Disturbing the Peace (Penal Code § 415)?
  2. What Is Diversion, Delayed Entry of Plea and Deferred Entry of Judgment?
  3. A Judge May Require that a Juvenile be Tracked by a GPS Monitoring Device, Even if the Juvenile is only Accused of Being Truant from School.
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