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Multiple New Laws Limit Prosecution of Juveniles

Dec 19, 2018 by Mike McKneely in Criminal Defense, Juvenile Charges, New Laws

California’s Governor Jerry Brown has signed Senate Bill 1391 and Senate Bill 439 into law, adding to the statutes on the prosecution of juveniles within the state’s justice system. The two bills were part of the Equity and Justice Package, a collection of several bills co-authored by California Senators Ricardo Lara and Holly Mitchell. The laws are considered landmark legislation, in that they provide further protections for juveniles who find themselves in the justice system.

If your child has been charged with a crime, make the best decision for their future and contact Fresno juvenile defense attorney Michael McKneely. He is dedicated to providing your son or daughter with aggressive representation that protects their rights and provides a path toward life after the justice system. To schedule a free consultation of your case, contact Michael McKneely, Criminal Defense Lawyer at (559) 443-7442.

A Minimum Age Limit – Senate Bill 439

Senate Bill (SB) 439 sets a minimum age for juvenile prosecution in California. A minor must be 12 years of age or older to face prosecution in juvenile court. The minimum age limit does not apply if your child is charged with murder or rape. California previously had no minimum age for prosecution in juvenile court, but it now joins a number of states establishing age limits in the juvenile justice system.

Instead of prosecuting a minor under 12 -years-old in juvenile court, the bill now requires the minor’s county to develop support that establishes the least restrictive alternative to the juvenile justice system. The law orders the counties to use school, health, and community-based resources to create a restorative justice system for minors who have committed crimes. This support should be used in conjunction with minors remaining with their parents or guardians, instead of being removed from their homes.

SB 439 is an effort towards shifting the focus from punitive measures against juveniles who commit criminal offenses to rehabilitation that sets them up for better futures. Advocates argue that the prosecution of juveniles does more harm, and increases the unnecessary burden on the juvenile court system.

Understanding Senate Bill 1391

SB 1391 prevents a district attorney from transferring a juvenile criminal case to adult court for prosecution if the 14 or 15-year-old minor is charged with certain serious offenses under California Penal Code. This law ensures that 14-year-old and 15-year-old minors stay in the juvenile justice system for prosecution. It also increases the protections in place for minors after the passage of Proposition 57. Proposition 57 prevents direct transfer of a minor to adult court for prosecution.

The Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice issued a report after Proposition 57, calling for the abolishment of juveniles prosecuted as adults, advocating that the juvenile justice system treat minors as the children they are.

Human Rights Watch argues that prosecuting youth in adult courts denied them of the services and treatments available in the juvenile justice system. The report accused those who recommended the transfer of juveniles to adult court of making a decision to give up on the youth. Advocates of this view claim that the “tough on crime” approach to youths charged with offenses does not help restore their lives and build productive futures. The report supports Senate Bill 1391, claiming that it will increase public safety and secure age-appropriate treatment for youth in transitional stages of life.

Contact a Fresno Juvenile Defense Lawyer for Help

The new laws that support fairer prosecution of juveniles are not magical solutions to the complex issues facing youth charged with a crime. Navigating the juvenile justice system is not an easy task, which is why your first step must be contacting a trusted and knowledgeable juvenile defense attorney from Michael McKneely, Criminal Defense Lawyer.

Attorney Michael McKneely is committed to protecting the future of youths in the juvenile justice system. He will work with you every step of the way, fighting to help your child receive proper and appropriate services and treatment. To schedule a free and confidential consultation of your son or daughter’s case, contact us today at (559) 443-7442.

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