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Does the CA Juvenile Court Handle Cases with Minors of All Ages?

After going into effect on January 1, 2019, Senate Bill 439 states that California juvenile courts only have jurisdiction over minor offenders between 12 and 17 years old.

Before former Gov. Jerry Brown signed SB 439 on September 2018, the juvenile court system handled cases involving all minors under 18 years of age. A minimum age limit did not exist.

One of the main reasons why lawmakers passed the bill is because going through the juvenile court system at an early age can have a negative impact on a child’s development and education. Additionally, the younger a minor enters the juvenile court system, the more likely he/she will become a repeat offender, according to research.

However, juvenile courts still have jurisdiction over a child younger than 12 years old when he/she commits murder, rape, sodomy, sexual penetration, and oral copulation. When it comes to the mentioned offenses besides murder, a minor must commit these crimes by use of force, violence, menace, duress, or threats of bodily harm.

Besides those crimes, each county in the state is responsible for developing “least restrictive” alternatives to the juvenile system for children under 12 years of age. While the bill doesn’t specifically state who must establish these alternatives, it suggests they could be in the form of community-based, school, or health services.

If your child has been arrested for a criminal offense in Santa Rosa, contact the Law Offices of Evan E. Zelig, P.C. today at (707) 418-5352 and schedule a free case review.