What Reforms Has California Made Towards Juvenile Justice?

In recent years, many laws have been passed in the state of California to reform the way the criminal justice system works for residents accused of crimes. California legislators believe that all individuals who are held within the criminal justice system could be subject to abuse which is why working with the system to make it fairer is necessary. Addressing any abuse is important, and specifically, the juvenile justice system requires a closer examination of current laws and procedures. 

Most commonly, youngsters under the age of 18 are receiving punitive sentences where they are charged as adults and receiving severe sentences for the crimes they commit. The issue at hand is that juveniles who commit crimes do not have the mental or emotional capacity that adults have to understand the repercussions of their actions. In America, the common belief is to monolithically treat all those accused of crimes the same way through incarceration. The question is, does serving time in jail help reform a person, and how much time is appropriate for a crime? 

In many cases, the duration of a prison sentence can be widely disproportionate when compared to the type of offense being sentenced. White-collar crimes, those that are financially motivated and do not involve violence that occurs in businesses and in the government, often have a lighter sentence than the wide majority of other crimes committed. White-collar crimes may be non-violent, but they generally impact multiple people’s lives negatively. White-collar crime can have a penalty far less than a crime which only affects one victim. Another example is drug crimes. Before the country began to adopt the legalization of marijuana, a person found in possession could face a punishment more excessive than an individual accused of sexual assault. In this situation, the difference between one individual who has an addiction problem is not contrasted with another person who was physically violent.

What Legislation Has California Put in Place For Juvenile Justice Reform?

On January 1, 2019, Senate Bill §1391 was signed into law and it changes the Welfare and Institutions Code by eliminating the courts from applying adult sentencing to 14 and 15-year old adolescents’ crimes. Children under the age of 15 will not be tried outside of the juvenile justice system. Older children, over the age of 16 or young adults older than 18 who committed a crime when they were 15 or under, but weren’t arrested or tried until they were older may still be charged as an adult.

The second reform that was made to the Welfare and Institutions Code was through Senate Bill §439. This amendment mandates that in order to be prosecuted as a juvenile for a crime, the minimum age of the child must be 12. The only way a child younger than 12 can be prosecuted is if they either raped or murdered another person. If the severity of the crime is egregious, they could still be subject to either juvenile or adult court. Crimes that are not excessively violent or grievous that are committed by children under the age of 12, will result in the child being released to the parents.

Does Your Child Need Legal Representation In San Diego?

What Juvenile Justice Reforms Has California TakenWhile the reforms help better even out sentencing for youths, the impact of convictions can follow your child for life and negatively affect their future. Obtaining the help of a San Diego criminal defense lawyer at the Coastal Legal Center APC is critical. 

The California criminal defense lawyers at the Coastal Legal Center have 35 years of experience helping residents in San Diego county successfully fight their charges. Contact the Southern California criminal defense attorneys at the Coastal Legal Center today at (619) 231- 0724 to schedule your free consultation.