Articles Tagged with juvenile crimes

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) reports that more than 60,000 young people under the age of 18 are imprisoned across the country on a daily basis. For juveniles, the impact of incarceration can be devastating mentally, emotionally, and in regards to their future career prospects and positive life outcomes. Juveniles are not fully mature, and because of this they need their families and loved ones near them. The benefits young people get from an uninterrupted education are vast, but this too goes by the wayside when they are put in jail. The resulting trauma of being incarcerated can impair a young person’s capacity for healthy growth. Also, society suffers when a youth loses out on all these life essentials and as a result, grows up with deficits that make living a life of crime more likely.

If your child has made mistakes or missteps and has gotten caught up with the California criminal justice system, rapid and strategic action is necessary to preserve their rights and protect their future. David M. Boertje is a San Diego criminal defense attorney who can help. Your child may be eligible for programs that allow them to avoid jail time and be put on a more constructive path.

Is Juvenile Incarnation a Problem in California?

Without a doubt, the issue of juvenile incarceration is a problem in this country. As to the root causes of why, that answer is a bit more complicated and can vary depending on who is answering. 

When looking at the statistics across the United States, California’s youth incarceration rates are high when compared to other states. California has a 226-300 per 100,000 youth incarceration rate. By comparison, North Carolina, for example, has a much lower 0-75 per 100,000 youth incarceration rate. 

As of 2013, there were 7,917 youths being held in juvenile facilities in California. North Carolina, by contrast, had only 543 in such institutions that year.

A case can be made that California has a far higher population than states like North Carolina, which could be one reason why there are more juveniles in detention. Still, the issue of confining our youngest population has substantial negative effects on this demographic. This is true with regard to both their healthy development and their ability to be productive and live happy prosperous lives as they age. And because of this, overall public safety can be affected.

It is therefore critical that if your son or daughter has an encounter with the law, you seek proficient and competent legal counsel immediately to help preserve their future.  Continue reading

It takes around 25 or more years for a human brain to become fully developed. While people can make bad decisions at any point in their life, younger, more naive children and teenagers are well-known for impulsivity and misjudgments. Some errors made at a young age are easily remedied, but others can impact the quality of life and a child’s trajectory forever. Underage drinking and trying drugs is something that most parents warn their children to avoid. While both can harm a teenager’s physical health and well-being, they can also lead to legal troubles.

The worst thing that can happen to a youth who is experimenting with drugs is to lose their life to drugs that are contaminated or from overdosing. Outside of the tragic loss of life from drug use, being arrested for a California drug crime is another potentially life-altering situation. Drug charges for teens are not just restricted to a certain demographic. Even the most well-off, college-bound teen could make a bad decision that results in legal implications.

How Can a California Drug Arrest Affect a Teen?

The outlook of a teenager’s life can be dramatically altered with just one drug arrest in California. If the teen was arrested for a drug crime and ultimately convicted of their charges, then this may impact their ability to get the funding necessary to go to college. These days, a drug conviction does not make it impossible to get student loans. However, the path to secure that aid comes with required actions on the part of the teen and because of this, the amount of time it could take to get a loan may be longer. Similarly, if aid was dispensed before the conviction happened, the teen may have to pay that money back.

A conviction for a drug offense may result in being denied acceptance to a particular institution of higher learning. If a teen is already enrolled in a course and they are arrested and convicted of a drug crime, disciplinary action by the school may take place. For teens already in college, access to a mentorship, work-study slot, internship, or other type of employment opportunity could be limited and extremely challenging to obtain.

It might not seem fair that one mistake can have such vast implications for the rest of a person’s life, but the reality is that in many cases, it does. This is especially true when it comes to errors in judgment that result in criminal convictions. Continue reading

The final phase of San Diego County’s $205 million construction for a juvenile detention center has been approved. San Diego supervisors voted for $75 million to go to the transition center without any dissent. The new facility will be a replacement for the Kearny Mesa Juvenile Detention Facility, which was erected in 1954. The supervisors supported the construction of the new facility because it will be better equipped to house important therapeutic services that are meant to help youngsters who got caught up in the criminal justice system. By minimizing punitive responses to these younger individuals and favoring more intrinsic healing methods, it is believed that these young people’s prospects will be improved.

In November, a portion of the facility will open with 96 beds available to minors who were charged with serious offenses. When the second and third phase of construction is completed, 72 to 96 beds will be open for minors. There will be a focus on understanding the children’s past trauma and the way those experiences may have been a reason for the child’s criminal behavior.

The Impact of Incarceration on Juveniles

Most of the juveniles who make mistakes and are arrested will not be convicted. For others who have the misfortune of being incarcerated for crimes committed, there is going to be an increased risk for these young people to be more vulnerable to many negative life and health outcomes. The system can affect minors in many ways including the development of mental health conditions, the inability to finish school as well as struggles to find jobs and earn a living. Ultimately, these children often re-engage in criminal acts and are sent back to jail. According to studies that examine trends with youths that are tangled up in the juvenile justice system, the longer a young person is behind bars the more likely that when they become adults they will have problems with their physical and mental health.

A large portion of youth that get into trouble with the law are already suffering from physical and mental health issues. Of all the children going into the juvenile system, 46% are in need of emergency medical care while 70% of the population that is incarcerated are afflicted with one or more mental health conditions. A shared factor amongst these young people is that almost all of them were victims of trauma. When a child who has already been devastated with horrendous life experiences is put into the juvenile justice system, their distress amplifies. It becomes a challenging task to help them overcome their anguish so that they can heal and move forward. Continue reading

Two juveniles have been arrested for participation in the death of a 16-year-old boy who was found beaten and lying on a San Diego Street on Wednesday, April 15. San Diego Police Lt. Matt Dobbs said that the homicide was reported at 10:30 a.m. in the 3000 block of C Street in the Golden Hill area. When officers arrived at the scene they found the boy, identified as Lawrence Furchell, laying in the street with head trauma. The officials provided aid to the boy until an ambulance came to transport Furchell to the local hospital for treatment. Furchell died in the hospital.


Homicide investigators were evaluating the scene to determine how the incident took place. They indicated that Furchell was riding in a large black SUV and he suffered blunt force trauma to the head. The two boys who were arrested in connection with the crime were aged 17 and 16. They were booked into juvenile hall on suspicion of murder. 


Investigators are still assessing the incident and piecing together the crime scene to determine how the murder happened and why. They are asking the public to contact the homicide unit with any information related to the murder.


How Are Juvenile Crimes Handled in California?


Criminal defendants under the age of 18 can be sent to either juvenile court or tried in adult court, depending on the crime. If sent to juvenile court, there is no jury. A judge will review their case and determine whether or not the juvenile is guilty of a crime. Punishments for young offenders can range from moderate to severe, depending on the crime and the defendant’s criminal history.


Juvenile court may sentence the child to incarceration or non-incarceration punishments. Incarceration options could include:


  • House arrest
  • Removal from home shared with parents or guardian to a foster home or group home
  • Juvenile hall
  • Probation
  • Secured juvenile facility
  • Adult jail
  • Combination of juvenile facility until the age of 18 then to an adult jail


If a juvenile is at least 14 years of age, the crimes that could put him or her in front of an adult court include:


  • First degree murder
  • Rape
  • Forcible sex offenses with the help of other people
  • Forcible lewd acts on a child under 14 years of age
  • Forcible penetration by a foreign object
  • Sodomy by force or violence


Get the Help You Need From a San Diego Criminal Defense Lawyer


The outcome of your child’s case will stick with him or her for life. If your child is being tried in adult court for murder, he or she could be looking at 25 years to life in prison. It is imperative that if you or a loved one is charged with a San Diego County murder that you immediately seek the counsel of an experienced San Diego murder and homicide defense attorney.

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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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