What are the New Laws Concerning Juveniles in California?

New Laws Concerning Juveniles in California - wooden gavel and books on table

The state is in the midst of a major transformation of the juvenile justice system, so it’s prudent to review the new laws concerning juveniles in California.

The person leading this transformation is Judge Katherine Lucero. She’s doing so with the stated goal of keeping kids in their communities and transitioning them back “welcomed and healed and forgiven.”

Judge Lucero is the director of the newly created Office of Youth and Community Restoration (OYCR). The OYCR will operate within California’s Health and Human Services Agency instead of the Department of Corrections.

Here’s a look at the new laws concerning juveniles in California …

Senate Bill 823: Division of Juvenile Justice Shutting Down

Under SB 823, the Division of Juvenile Justice — state facilities formerly known as the California Youth Authority and operated under the state’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation — will be shut down by June 30, 2023.

The facilities have been used for serious or violent offenses, such as burglary, assault, and homicide.

Courts haven’t been able to send juveniles to these state facilities since July 1, 2021, keeping them in county facilities to serve their sentences closer to home instead.

Senate Bill 92: County-Based Secure Youth Treatment Facilities

This new law (SB 92) allows the juvenile court to send juveniles 14 years old and older to a county Secure Youth Treatment Facility (SYTF) under certain circumstances and criteria and only if they’ve found less restrictive options to be unsuitable.

The criteria include:

  • Severity of the offense, the juvenile’s role and behavior, and the harm done to the victim
  • Previous history of delinquency and attempts at rehabilitation
  • If the SYTF can meet the treatment and security needs of the juvenile
  • If the SYTF can achieve the goals of rehabilitation and community safety

Assembly Bill 624: Transferring Juveniles to Adult Criminal Court can be Appealed

AB 624 created Welfare and Institutions Code section 801. This new law allows the order transferring juveniles to adult criminal court to be appealed and subject to immediate review.

The notice of appeal must be filed within 30 days of the transfer order being issued. And upon the appeal being filed, there must be a stay of any criminal court proceedings until there has been a determination made regarding the appeal.

OYCR Director Committed to Giving Juveniles a Second Chance

While not a new law, the new OYCR Director — Judge Katherine Lucero — brings a commitment to giving kids a second chance. EdSource quotes her as saying:

“I just want us to all remember that these are kids, that they committed the offenses under the age of 18. And we don’t have any information that says keeping them incarcerated for years and years is helpful to either the child or the community.”

Judge Lucero also said, “if there’s any person on the planet that made an awful mistake that deserves a second chance, it’s a child.”

You Don’t Have to Protect Your Child Alone

No juvenile defense attorney can ever replace a parent in protecting a child. That’s not what we’d ever want to do. But we are here to provide the legal advice and representation that you need when the juvenile court system is involved.

If your child is in trouble, do not wait and hope for the best. Having an experienced juvenile defense attorney on your side is critical to give your child the best chance of a positive outcome.

Sally Vecchiarelli understands the juvenile court system. She has dedicated her practice to defending children. And, as a mother, she also understands your parental need to protect your child.

She’s here to help you do so.

If your child is in trouble and you need to hire a juvenile defense attorney to protect their future, contact us today for a free consultation.

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