New Limits on Juveniles in Adult Court

The Legislature has amended Welfare and Institutions Code section 707 to provide that a
minor must have been at least 16 when he committed an offense in order to be eligible for adult
prosecution. (Section 707, subd. (a)(1).) As an exception to the general rule, a minor who
committed a crime at ages 14 or 15 may be prosecuted as an adult if he or she "was not
apprehended prior to the end of juvenile court jurisdiction ... " (Section 707, subd. (a)(2).)

The Legislature has also amended Welfare and Institutions Code section 602 in order to
provide that a minor must generally be at least 12 years old in order to be subject to the
jurisdiction of the juvenile court. (Section 602, subd. (a).) However, there is an exception for
serious felony offenses such as murder and sexual assault. (Section 602, subd. (b).) A minor less
than 12 can still be brought to juvenile court for those offenses.

If you have an appeal where either new statute comes into play, the remedy is clear. The
client will be entitled to a reversal and remand for a juvenile court disposition. This result is
required by People v. Superior Court (Lara) (2018) 4 Cal.5th 299 which held that a new law
regarding juvenile transfer hearings had to be retroactively applied to pending appeals.

(November 5, 2018)

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