Continuances In Juvenile Dependency Proceedings

The juvenile dependency statutory scheme requires that petitions under section 300 be heard, and decided rapidly. (Jeff M. v. Superior Court (1997) 56 Cal. App. 4th 1238, 1241 [66 Cal. Rptr. 2d 343].) Continuances are discouraged. ( Id. at p. 1242.) Section 352 contains a number of limitations on the juvenile court's power to continue dependency proceedings. Under subdivision (a), the court may not grant a continuance that is contrary to the child's best interests. A pending criminal prosecution is not considered, in and of itself, good cause for a continuance. Subdivision (b) of section 352 contains two specific restrictions on the juvenile court's discretion to grant continuances. First, if the child is detained, the court cannot grant a continuance that would result in the dispositional hearing being completed more than 60 days after the detention hearing, absent exceptional circumstances requiring such a continuance. Second, the court may not, under any circumstances, grant continuances that would cause the dispositional hearing to be completed more than six months after the detention hearing.