Over the next few months, California’s juvenile justice system could undergo a number of important changes that would better protect minors facing criminal charges. Lawmakers have introduced eight bills that are designed to increase the minimum age for minors to face incarceration, provide additional constitutional protections, and prevent minors from facing life sentences without the possibility of parole.
Here’s a look at some of the new proposed laws that could affect the California juvenile justice system:
Senate Bill 395 – The Right to Remain Silent and Have an Attorney Present
One of the biggest problems with the juvenile justice system is the number of false confessions made by minors. Minors are more prone to pressure and less likely to understand the consequences of confessing to a crime, and as a result, many juveniles are convicted of crimes they did not actually commit.
If passed, Senate Bill 395 will prohibit any minor charged with a crime from waiving their constitutional rights without first speaking to a juvenile criminal attorney. This means that a minor will no longer be able to waive the right to remain silent or have an attorney present during questioning until the minor first speaks to an attorney who can explain what it means to give up those rights.
Senate Bill 439 – Minimum Age of Prosecution
Currently, the law places any person under the age of 18 within the juvenile justice system. This means that children, no matter how young, can theoretically be placed in the juvenile system if they commit a crime. Senate Bill 439 proposes to change that by excluding children under the age of 12 from being placed in the juvenile court system.
Senate Bill 394 – No Life Sentence Without Possibility of Parole
In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court heard a case called Miller v. Alabama. In that case, the Supreme Court declared that sentencing a minor under the age of 18 to a life sentence without the possibility of parole is a violation of the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution, which forbids “cruel and unusual punishment.” SB 394 would bring California’s laws in line with that decision.
Senate Bill 190 – Elimination of Court Fees for Juveniles
As of this writing, any person sentenced to house arrest must pay an administrative fee and application fee to the county. In addition, if the crime involved the use of a controlled substance, the court is required to order the defendant pay for any drug testing they must take as a condition of their sentence. If passed, SB 190 will waive those required fees for anyone who is 21 years old or younger.
Call the Juvenile Criminal Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today
While the changes that are proposed to the juvenile system make it more fair for minors, there are still many hurdles for each of these bills to clear. In the meantime, if you or someone you love is facing a charge in juvenile court, having an experienced juvenile crime attorney at your side can help your case tremendously. Our skilled team of juvenile defense attorneys has been successfully defending clients in the juvenile justice system for over 35 years. Our knowledgeable attorneys can help you now.
With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, San Diego, West Covina, Torrance and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich juvenile defense attorney available to help you no matter where you are located.
Contact our offices today at (888) 280-6839 for a free phone consultation. We will get through this together.