For our third installment of notable new laws, here are two concerning juvenile justice.
We’re gonna prosecute fewer kids as adults. This is Senate Bill 1391. It amends the Welfare and Institutions Code to eliminate the prosecution of 14- and 15-year-olds as adults. Going forward, these cases must always remain in the juvenile system. Before, a county prosecutor could ask a court to transfer the case to adult court if it alleged a serious or violent felony. Now, he can do it only if the kid was at least sixteen years old at the time or was younger than that but eluded arrest until he turned 18. The new law builds on Proposition 57, a ballot initiative from 2016 that we wrote about here.
We’re gonna leave them kids alone before age twelve. This is Senate Bill 439. It amends the Welfare and Institutions Code to eliminate even the juvenile system for kids younger than twelve. The only exceptions are if a kid that young is charged with murder or forcible rape. Otherwise, for children under twelve, the state’s policy will be to avoid getting involved whenever possible. And beginning next year, law enforcement’s response must be to release the child to his or her parents and otherwise use the least invasive means to serve and protect.