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New California laws offer less punishment for younger individuals

Before Governor Jerry Brown left office, he signed in numerous bills that will drastically change the California employment and criminal justice systems. Some of these newer laws seek to lessen the offense charges on certain convictions and focus more on rehabilitation, attracting them a fair amount of praise and criticism.

Several of these new laws focus on making less harsher punishments for minors. Some children in the past have received felony charges that landed them decades in prison and ruined any chance of a life they had. With these new bills signed, a child may have a chance to plan for they layout of their dorm room rather than their prison cell.

No prosecuting those under 12

Before Senate Bill 439 was signed, the state did not have much of a set limit on how old a child had to be to fall within jurisdiction of the juvenile court. The only requirement was that they had to be less than 18 years of age.

Beginning in 2020, counties will begin finding alternative means to punish a child less than 12 years old that falls within jurisdiction of the juvenile court. Some of these programs the kid could go through to reform for their behavior could be in a school or community-based service. The only way that the child could face punishment from the juvenile court is if they committed a very serious crime such as rape or murder. The state is hoping that this method will be financially sufficient and will prevent the ramifications that prosecution would have on a young child.

No adult court for 14 and 15-year olds

If critics of Senate Bill 439 are worried that the newer restrictions may limit the amount of juvenile court cases, Senate Bill 1391 aims to change that. The Public Safety Bill and Rehabilitation Act of 2016 granted the district attorney the ability to transfer a child 14 and older to a court of criminal jurisdiction based on their accused crime. Because of this, hundreds of children spent their high school and even college years in prison.

The newer law will go back to allowing the district attorney to only transferring those 16 and older. Those who are 14 and 15 will instead go to trial in a juvenile court. It gives teenagers a better chance to rehabilitate right before some of the most important years in their young lives.

However, they court can still allow the juvenile court to transfer them to the adult court based on the following circumstances:

  • The child’s physical and mental health
  • The child’s potential for growth under the court’s jurisdiction
  • The child’s criminal history
  • The child’s previous attempts at rehabilitation
  • The severity of the child’s crime

No matter what age your kid is arrested in, severe criminal charges can cost them both money and some of the best years of their lives. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you utilize these new laws to prevent harsher penalties from ruining your child’s development.

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