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With the beginning of a new year, new laws typically become effective, and 2019 is no different for California residents. While some of the new laws garner a lot of attention (limiting the sale of single-use straws, prohibiting the sale of pets from unlicensed facilities), some laws are meant to amend various aspects of California’s criminal justice system. Violating these new provisions may not be immediately apparent, as these laws, like most, are typically enacted without much fanfare. However, an experienced criminal defense attorney knows that his/her value is dependent upon knowledge of these new laws and, consequently, retaining the services of an attorney is crucial to ensuring that any allegation is responded to in an efficient and effective manner. Recently, the San Diego PBS and NPR affiliate provided a listing, and a brief description, of some of the laws that took effect on 01 January. Two of these newly in-force laws affect the juvenile justice system, and a discussion of these new laws will follow below.

SB 439

Prior to 2019, California’s juvenile court system had jurisdiction over all children, deemed to be any individual under the age of 18, who violated a California law, a U.S. law, or a municipal ordinance. Specifically, there was no minimum age where the juvenile court could not hear a case. In 2019, with the implementation of SB 439, the California juvenile court system does not have jurisdiction over minors under the age of 12, unless the minor under 12 committed the following crimes through the use of force, violence, or threat of bodily injury:

  • Murder;
  • Rape or sodomy; or
  • Sexual penetration or oral copulation.

Instead, SB 439 mandates counties develop an alternative to the juvenile justice system.

The reasonings for SB 439 are primarily based on the following findings by the California Legislature:

  • That interactions between a minor and the juvenile justice system at such a young age can lead to harm in the minor’s future developmental and educational outcomes;
  • That research has shown that the earlier a minor enters the justice system, even a juvenile justice system, the more likely he/she is to become a chronic and repeat offender; and
  • That research into developmental brain science of minor individuals has shown that adolescent brains generally need a longer time to mature into adulthood than was previously contemplated.

SB 1391

In addition, prior to 2019, a California district attorney had the authority to transfer a minor from the juvenile court system to the adult criminal court system in cases in which the minor has been charged with a felony when he/she was 16 years of age or older, or in cases involving minors 14 or 15 years old accused of specified serious offenses. Primarily based on the same reasoning mentioned above, with the implementation of SB 1391, this authority has been eliminated. As a result, all minors who could have been transferred to the adult criminal court system will continue to be adjudicated according to the juvenile court system. In other words, under no circumstances would a minor under the age of 16 be tried in adult criminal court.

Speak to a Criminal Defense Attorney

If your child was charged with a crime, contact the criminal defense attorneys at Manshoory Law Group, APC as soon as possible. It is imperative to get legal representation to protect the child’s rights, and our experience in California criminal law and, especially, its juvenile justice system, can help you launch the most effective defense possible. Attorneys are available 24/7 to take your call. Contact the Los Angeles criminal defense firm today for an initial consultation.





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