Crimes Commited by 14 or 15 Year Olds Can No Longer Be Transferred to Adult Court

Today, Governor Brown signed into law SB 1391.  SB 1391 repeals the authority of a district attorney to make a motion to transfer a minor from juvenile court to adult court in a case in which a minor is alleged to have committed a specified serious offense when he or she was 14 or 15 years of age, unless the individual was not apprehended prior to the end of juvenile court jurisdiction.

This law modifies the Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act of 2016 (Prop 57) which allowed the district attorney to make a motion to transfer a minor from juvenile court to adult in a case in which a minor is alleged to have committed a felony when he or she was 16 years of age or older OR in a case in which a specified serious offense is alleged to have been committed by a minor when he or she was 14 or 15 years of age.

In signing this bill, Governor Brown stated “There is a fundamental principle at state here: whether we want a society which at least a attempts to reform the youngest offenders before consigning them to adult prisons where their likelihood of becoming a lifelong criminal is so much higher”.


How can my child be charged in adult criminal court ?

Criminal charges against a child as young as 14 years old may be directly filed in adult criminal court thus bypassing the Juvenile Justice system altogether.

The District Attorney has the discretion to file charges in adult criminal court if the youth is 16 or 17 years old And the youth is alleged to have either committed an offense listed under Welfare & Institutions Code §707(b) (These offenses constitute a “Juvenile Strike”).  OR

If the youth has previously committed a felony offense when 14 years old or older AND is accused of committing a felony where the victim was at least 65 years old or disabled or a felony that is either a hate crime or gang related.

Additionally, the District Attorney has the discretion to file charges in adult criminal court if the youth is 14, 15, 16, or 17 years old and the alleged offense is:

  1. One for which an adult could receive a sentence of death or life imprisonment; OR
  2. The youth is accused of personally using a firearm while committing a felony; OR
  3. The offense is listed under Welfare & Institutions Code §707(b) AND one or more of the following is true:
  • The youth has previously been found to be a person described in Welfare & Institutions Code §602 by reason of the commission of a “Juvenile Strike” offense (W&I Code §707(b);
  • The offense is alleged to have been committed for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with, a criminal street gang;
  • The offense was a hate crime
  • The alleged victim was 65 years of age or older, or disabled.

The District Attorney must file in adult criminal court when a child is alleged to have personally killed someone and special circumstances is alleged OR certain sex crimes are alleged.

If you have any questions regarding whether or not your child can be charged in adult criminal court, please call us directly at (805) 330-1529.



Sealing Your Juvenile Record – Update

Beginning in 2015 – New Law Authorizing Automatic Sealing of Juvenile Records

As discussed in our previous blog on Sealing Your Juvenile Records, existing law already allows for the sealing of non-violent juvenile records, but requires a petition to the court in order to initiate the process.  Beginning  on January 1, 2015, Senate Bill 1038 which is codified in Welfare & Institutions Code section 786 will provide automatic sealing of juvenile records in cases where the minor successfully completes all court-imposed sanctions.

Section 786 is added to the Welfare and Institutions Code, to read:

786.  If the minor satisfactorily completes (a) an informal program of supervision pursuant to Section 654.2, (b) probation under Section 725, or (c) a term of probation for any offense not listed in subdivision (b) of Section 707, the court shall order the petition dismissed, and the arrest upon which the judgment was deferred shall be deemed not to have occurred.  The court shall order all records pertaining to that dismissed petition in the custody of the juvenile court, except that the prosecuting attorney and the probation department of any county shall have access to these records after they are sealed for the limited purpose of determining whether the minor is eligible for deferred entry of judgment pursuant to Section 790.  The court may access a file that has been sealed pursuant to this section for the limited purpose of verifying the prior jurisdictional status of a ward who is petitioning the court to resume its jurisdiction pursuant to subdivision (e) of Section 388.  This access shall not be deemed an unsealing of the record and shall not require notice to any other entity.

Sealing Your Juvenile Records

We get calls all the time with questions about juvenile law.  Specifically our clients want to know about sealing their juvenile records now that they are off probation and have remained out of the criminal justice system.  We believe that it is never too late to seal your juvenile record.  Sealing your juvenile records can help you to leave the past behind and move on.

Contrary to popular belief, Juvenile records are not automatically sealed and you must file a petition with the court to request to have them sealed (unless you were granted and successfully completed deferred entry of judgment pursuant to pursuant to section 790 of the Welfare & Institutions Code).

Your juvenile records not only include all information (papers, orders, and reports) contained in your juvenile court file, but also all records relating to your case held by other agencies such as the District Attorney’s Office, Public Defender’s Office, the Department of Justice, the Probation Department, and other law enforcement agencies.

Sealing your records means that all records held by the court and various agencies will be closed up and sealed off.  Sealed Court proceedings are treated as if they have never taken place.  If an inquiry is made to any of these agencies or to the court about a sealed record, the law requires the agencies to answer, “we have no record of that matter.”

To be eligible to get your records sealed, your case must have started and ended in juvenile court and you must meet certain requirements.

  • You are at least 18 years old and have completed probation; Or you are younger than 18 but at least 5 years have passed since your last arrest or discharge from probation.
  • As an adult, you have not been convicted of a felony or of any misdemeanor involving a crime of “moral turpitude”.  If you have been, you may not be able to seal your juvenile records.
  • A showing to the court that you have been rehabilitated.
  • In addition to the above eligibility requirements, you must not have an open civil suit regarding the actions that caused your juvenile record.

Even if you meet all the above, not all juvenile offenses qualify to be sealed.  If you committed an offense that is listed in section 707(b) of the Welfare & Institutions Code when you were age 14 or older and/or if the juvenile offenses were traffic violations/offenses and parking violations then you may not qualify.

If you have any questions about whether or not you qualify to have your records sealed and the process to file a petition, please call us directly at (805) 330-1529.


Under the age of 21? Driver license consequences for juveniles.

The  DMV will take your license for offenses other than alcohol if you are under the age of twenty one.  A juvenile can lose their privilege to drive a car or the ability to obtain a drivers license for minor offenses.  Crimes such as vandalism and minor in possession may cause a suspension of the ability to get a drivers license or the loss of a license.  Crimes such as reckless driving and street racing also may impact the ability to drive.  Please be aware of all the driving consequence before  admitting a crime in juvenile court.