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California Legislators Propose Additional Laws to Reform Juvenile Justice

Juvenile Justice

Last year on this blog, we shared news about changes to California’s sentencing laws that altered how inmates who were under age 25 would be considered for parole. These  changes were signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown prior to the end of 2017 along with a number of other laws targeted at preventing young people from being sentenced to prolonged prison terms or being dogged by juvenile convictions for the rest of their lives. The California State Legislature is now considering a number of additional bills aimed at providing fair outcomes for juveniles swept up into the criminal justice system. Read on to learn more, and contact a skilled Ventura criminal defense attorney with any additional questions or for immediate assistance.

Last year, Gov. Brown ended up signing into law nine bills targeted at reforming how California courts approach criminal punishment for those arrested as young people. These included changes that made it easier for courts to seal juvenile criminal records, provided that minors under age 16 were required to consult with an attorney before waiving their rights during police interrogations, and limiting fees that families would owe when children were placed in juvenile detention. A number of these bills fell under a project created by Senators Holly Mitchell and Ricardo Lara called the “Equity and Justice” package, which is targeting juvenile justice and the ways it can cause long-term harm for young people.

One bill proposed by Mitchell and Lara that is currently before the California Senate would prevent prosecutors from requesting that persons who were 14 or 15 years old at the time that they were alleged to have committed a crime be tried as an adult. Currently, a 2016 law requires that prosecutors receive a judge’s permission before trying a minor in adult court, but this law would make it impossible for young teens to land in adult prison. When the practice of trying young teens in adult court first became popular, neuroscientific researchers believed that the brain was fully developed by that age. Since then, research has shown that brains—and the capacity for good judgment– are a far way off from being fully formed until much later. As a result, juvenile justice reform advocates believe the law should reflect our more advanced understanding of whether teens are capable of making good choices, and should provide more appropriate opportunities for rehabilitation.

If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges in Ventura County, get skilled and dedicated legal defense help by contacting the Ventura criminal defense attorney Paul Tyler at 805-889-9000.

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