Articles Tagged with juvenile crimes

California is at the forefront of criminal justice reform. Last year, many laws were passed to reform the criminal justice system in an effort to make it fairer for Californians accused of committing crimes, whether they were serving time in juvenile detention facilities, jails, or state prisons. Abuses occur in any system, it is how those abuses are addressed that are the true measures of progress.

One area in the current spotlight is juvenile justice reform. Children under 18 who commit crimes are increasingly charged as adults as if they have the mental and emotional maturity to understand the consequences of their actions. As a society Americans feel that criminal conduct should be punished through incarceration; serving time seems to be the only acceptable form of punishment.  

The amount of time required to be served for certain crimes is disproportionate to the nature of the offenses. For example, white collar crimes are generally punished less severely than all other crimes even though the impact of the crime is felt by more people than a crime impacting just one victim. Drug crimes, especially simple marijuana possession, are punished more severely than sexual assault crimes, making no distinction between physical violence and drug addiction.

Two bills went into effect on January 1, 2019 specifically aimed at addressing some of the problems in the juvenile justice system. The first of those laws was Senate Bill §1391. This bill, now law, amends the Welfare and Institutions Code to eliminate the prosecution of 14 and 15-year-old children as adults. Effective January 1, 2019, criminal cases involving children under 15 years of age will remain in the juvenile court system. Children over 16, or individuals over 18 who committed a juvenile crime but eluded arrest until after they turned 18, or who commit a serious or violent felony can still be charged as adults should the prosecutor request it.

Prosecutors to Decline Charging Children Under 12 for Crimes

The second law, Senate Bill §439, also amends the Welfare and Institutions Code to eliminate the adjudication of crime, in both juvenile and adult court, for children younger than 12 years of age. Children accused of murder and forcible rape, however, will still face juvenile or adult charges, depending on the severity of the crime charged. A child under 12 will be released to his or her parents and be subject to supervision outside of the criminal justice system.

These reforms are an important step forward in thinking about crime and crime prevention. By offering social services rather than jail time to children accused of crimes, rehabilitation can be achieved and such children returned to society as contributing members.

Do Not Go it Alone

If your child has been arrested and charged with a crime in San Diego, contact a qualified San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney who can help mitigate penalties today and explain your legal rights and responsibilities. Available 24/7, the Boertje Law Firm represents clients at any stage of the criminal case and for any crime charged — violation, misdemeanor, or felony.   Continue reading

This is the third post in a series on the use of DNA profiling by law enforcement in California. The focus here is on the DNA collection of juvenile offenders.


Sometimes referred to as “Section 602 proceedings,” after the California law governing delinquency proceedings, juvenile court is not a part of California’s criminal justice system. Instead, juvenile court is considered a civil proceeding where cases get “adjudicated.” Most juvenile offenders are housed in county facilities close to their home where they can keep in contact with their family and have access to social services. These juvenile offenders, depending on their charges, may be required to submit a DNA sample as part of the resolution of their juvenile delinquency case.


Whose DNA Gets Collected?

A new law that prohibits employers in the state of California from asking about a job applicant’s juvenile criminal records is set to take effect January 1of the new year. Assembly Bill (A.B.) No. 1843 amends Section 432.7 of the California Labor Code to prohibit employers from asking about or considering one’s juvenile records or involvement in the juvenile system if it did not result in a conviction. It also would bar employers from using the information as a condition of employment.

In other words, it will soon be illegal for an employer to ask a job applicant about or consider “information concerning or related to an arrest, detention, processing, diversion, supervision, adjudication, or court disposition that occurred while the person was subject to the process and jurisdiction of juvenile court law.”

Currently, the California Labor Code prohibits private and public sector employers from asking a job applicant to disclose information on an arrest or detention that did not result in a conviction or a pretrial diversion program, or an expunged record. AB. 1843 expanded these prohibitions.

California Governor Jerry Brown signed A.B. 1843 into law in September of 2016. Proponents of the bill have claimed that it would reduce the chances of a minor, especially minors from communities of color, from falling back into the justice system, since prior criminal history is a huge barrier to getting a job.

Sealing or Expunging Juvenile Records in California

Despite common misperception, juvenile records are not automatically sealed once you turn 18.  While juvenile records are not public records unlike adult criminal records, they are still accessible until a formal order from a judge seals and destroys them.

In California,  juvenile arrest records include every report and court record related to criminal activity you were involved in as a minor. This includes arrest reports, exhibits, and probation reports. Expungement (sealing) of juvenile records means that they will no longer be accessible to anyone and in alot of cases, destroyed. It has the effect of making it like the arrest or conviction never happened.

In order to qualify for expungement of juvenile records, you must be 18 years of age, and have not been convicted of a crime that involved moral turpitude as an adult. You must also not have pending civil litigation against you, and the court must be able to conclude that you have been rehabilitated. Continue reading

Last month, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis came out in public support of the new bill authored by State Sen. Marty Block (D- San Diego), SB 456, which would distinctly make it a misdemeanor crime for someone to threaten to fire a firearm on private and public school campuses.  The bill was originally introduced in February.  In the last two years alone, Dumanis states that the number of students suspended and expelled for making a terrorist threat in San Diego County has risen 35 percent, from 62 in 2011-12 to 84 students in 2013-14, according to data from the state Department of Education.  More than 130 threats to schools in the San Diego Unified School District were made over the past three years.  Statewide figures also show an increase, but at a slower rate than the San Diego School District.

Under current law, those types of crimes are charged under Penal Code 422, a generic charge for someone making a criminal threat. Specifically, the current Penal Code requires that one caused a “reasonable fear” within the person(s) threatened.  If the bill becomes law, a school firearm threat, for example, would become a specific crime subject to a fine of up to $1,000 and up to a year in county jail.  The new law would remove the fear requirement and require those convicted to pay for any reasonable emergency response costs incurred by the public agency responding to the threat.

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