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New Law Would Protect Juveniles Transferred to Adult Criminal Justice System

October 11, 2019

AB 1423 would allow for a reverse transfer in specific situations

New Law Would Protect Juveniles Transferred to Adult Criminal Justice System

As a general rule, juveniles who are convicted of committing crimes should be handled by the California juvenile justice system. Yet in some situations, the crimes that juveniles are charged with are so severe that a transfer to the adult system is warranted. Specifically, transfer laws allow for a juvenile to be transferred to adult court when he or she cannot be rehabilitated. But what happens when it turns out that the juvenile did not actually commit those crimes — and is still in adult prison?

New legislation, Assembly Bill 1423 (AB 1423) is designed to address that exact situation. According to a criminal lawyer Rancho Cucamonga, CA, at transfer hearings, a prosecutor asks a juvenile court to transfer a case to adult criminal court. In making the transfer decision, the juvenile court assumes that the young person committed the crime or crimes that they are charged with, which is usually based only on the arrest report. This often occurs before the prosecutor has talked to witnesses in the case or a more complete investigation has occurred.

Under current law, if it turns out later that the case was overcharged or that the initial report was inaccurate, there is no way for the youth to be transferred back to the juvenile system. In other words, if a juvenile is charged with rape and petty theft, his case might be transferred based on the severity of the rape charge. If he is only found guilty of the theft charge, he would have to remain in the adult system because there is no mechanism for transferring him back.

Introduced by Assemblymember Buffy Wicks, AB 1423 addresses this injustice by providing a way to reverse a transfer from the juvenile to adult system. Depending on the charge(s) involved and how the case was resolved (trial or plea bargain), there are several mechanisms to reverse a transfer under this proposed law. For example, for a conviction on misdemeanor charges, the youth could request a transfer back to the juvenile system. It has been approved by the Legislature and is awaiting signature from Governor Newsom.

This bill is particularly important given the risks faced by juveniles in the adult system. They generally have a higher risk of physical and sexual abuse, and have a significantly higher rate of suicide compared to youth in the juvenile system. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), youth in the adult prison system have a higher recidivism rate than those who serve time in the juvenile system.

If your child is facing juvenile criminal charges, you are likely stressed about what may happen to them. A skilled criminal lawyer Rancho Cucamonga, CA can advocate for your teen to help them achieve the best possible outcome. At the Chambers Law Firm, we represent clients who have been charged with a range of California criminal offenses. Contact us today at 855-397-0210 or dchambers@clfca.com to schedule a free consultation.

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