Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Bankrupt On Juvenile Justice

juvenile justice
Kids who get in trouble with the law, more times than not, lack parental supervision. Without direction, adolescents often fall in with the wrong crowd. From there, anything is possible, from drug use to committing petty crimes. Such teenagers, at one point or another, get arrested by local authorities, and may have to serve time, receive probation and/or pay fines. As you can probably imagine, the process is both slow and costly. So, who is going to pay for it all? One’s family?

Well, yes, a teenager's family is usually stuck having to foot the bill for the infractions. But, if we already know that many of the kids caught up in the system come from broken or dysfunctional homes—there is a good chance that such families are not at the upper end of the socioeconomic spectrum. Even a middle-class family may be severely strained by court fees associated with the son or daughter's indiscretion.

Any adult who has had a run-in with the law will tell you, “it isn’t cheap!” Hiring an attorney (even public defenders carry some cost), paying fines and restitution can all add up. Even if one is sentenced to probation, there are monthly supervision and drug screening fees to be budgeted. The same is the case for juveniles. The difference is that minors have few financial resources at their young age. Which means that mom and dad need to step in to cover the costs, failing to pay such costs could harm their child.

Bankrupt On Juvenile Justice


A new report conducted by researchers from the UC Berkeley School of Law indicates that some families in counties across the state are losing their homes and having to file bankruptcy, because of fees associated with their child’s arrest, Public News Service reports. Juveniles living in San Diego, Orange, Kern and Ventura counties are subject to the highest fees. Covering the costs of:
  • Public Representation
  • Detention
  • Probation
  • Electronic Monitoring
  • Drug Testing
"Many families can't afford to pay even $50 a month, let alone $500 a month," said study co-author Stephanie Campos-Bui, a clinical supervising attorney with the Policy Advocacy Clinic at the UC Berkeley School of Law. "When these fees are assessed, they become a civil judgment against a family that is enforceable through wage garnishment and tax-rebate intercepts."

Senate Bill 190, currently before the California state Legislature, would ban the collection of fees in the juvenile-justice system across the state.

Juvenile Justice Help


A good defense could result in lower costs in the long run, please contact Katie Walsh to discuss your options. Attorney Walsh, a former prosecutor familiar with the OC adult and juvenile justice systems, can provide your son or daughter a solid defense. Please reach out for a free consultation today.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

SB 421: Sex Offender Tier System

sex offenders
No matter which state you live in, most people would probably agree that sex crimes are some of the most heinous. Some may even argue that the damage caused by sexual assault, molestation and rape have lasting effects on victims that could be considered worse in many ways than that of murder. Everyone has different opinions, to be sure, yet it is hard to not see the value in keeping track of people who may be apt to commit sex offenses again.

In the United States, every state has some form of registry that convicted sex offenders are required by law to submit information about where they are residing. The public can access the registry to determine if there is anyone in their neighborhood that may be cause for concern. In California, there is a law in place enacted in 1996 that mandates the California Department of Justice (CA DOJ) to inform the public about specified registered sex offenders and about those individuals posing a risk to public safety.

California's Megan's Law came about in the wake of the rape and murder of seven-year-old Megan Kanka. The perpetrator was a known offender who moved across the street from Kanka’s family. Sex offender legislation, like the registry requirement and Megan’s Law, arguably have protected countless families from tragedy. However, there have been some concerns of late that some sex crimes are more severe than others, and that the lifelong registry requirement may be extreme in some cases.

A new bill has been introduced in California that would bring about a sex offender tier system, CBS 2 reports. Those below would potentially be able to be removed from the database. A spectrum with 1 being the least severe and 3 being the worst. If passed, offenders who fall into tier three would be in the registry for life, whereas people in tier 1 would be on the list for 10 years and tier 2 for twenty years. While the law seems pretty simple, if passed it would mean that the State would have to go back and review each offender's case to determine which tier they should be on. As you can probably imagine there are a number of Californian’s who are not fans of SB 421.

"So if they're on there for 10 years, after the first year of being on there they can petition to be taken off. They would go to the law enforcement and then they forward it to the district attorney's office who writes it to be taken off. So someone who is a tier 1, which means possession of child porn or lewd acts with a child under the age of 14 or selling a minor for illegal acts, those are tier 1 offenses. That's ridiculous," said Mika Moulton, who is with the organization Christopher’s Clubhouse. SB 421 is still in the preliminary stages. 

If you or loved one needs an attorney to understand the current laws and the proposed legislation and how it may impact you or a family member, remember to contact Attorney Katie Walsh. Ms. Walsh and her team will communicate with you and answer all your questions.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Sexual Assault Survivors Bill of Rights

sexual assault
Last week was National Crime Victims' Rights Week (NCVRW), April 2 through the 8th, with the theme of—Strength. Resilience. Justice. The goal is to inspire communities to raise awareness about victims’ rights and address the unmet needs of such victims.

With that in mind, it is timely given that the California Assembly Public Safety Committee unanimously passed The Sexual Assault Survivors Bill of Rights (Assembly Bill 1312), East County Magazine reports. The legislation, authored and introduced by San Diego Democratic Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, would require hospital and law enforcement to inform sexual assault victims about their rights before undergoing medical examination and/or interviews. 

Millions of Californians have been sexually assaulted and/or raped, both adults and minors alike. It takes extreme courage to come forward and report such malicious acts. Such people need not only the support of the community, but also that of lawmakers, law enforcement and medical professionals.

“California needs to do a better job of helping sexual assault victims navigate all of the legal, medical and personal issues that survivors have to deal with, and it starts with a Sexual Assault Victims bill of rights that ensures each survivor is informed about their rights and the resources that are available to them before they are examined,” said Assemblywoman Gonzalez-Fletcher. “Victims have rights, and this new law will strengthen those rights to include emergency contraception for women and a ban on police departments prematurely destroying rape test kits.” 

On top of being given an outline detailing a victim's rights, Assembly Bill 1312 would grant survivors:
  • The right to request a person of a certain gender be present during interviews.
  • The right for a copy (gratis) of law enforcement reports on the case.
  • The right to free contraception and a shower (when available) after the medical exam.
  • The right to a separate waiting room from the defendant during criminal proceedings and at the district attorney’s office.
“For rape survivors like myself, these civil rights in California mean the difference between justice or lost justice,” stated Amanda Nguyen, California native, founder and president of Rise, a national civil rights nonprofit. “California survivors must have equal rights under the law. With the support from state legislators, we can help pass new laws that will end these injustices and protect the 2 million rape survivors in California.”

The legislation would require law enforcement to keep rape test kits for 20 years.

If you are the victim of any form of sexual assault or rape, please contact the Law Offices of Katie Walsh. We understand how difficult this process can be and we are here for you.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Raising Awareness About Sexting

sexting
American reliance on smartphones for day-to-day tasks increases steadily every year, as the devices become ever increasingly more advanced. There was a time when people could easily point out what a cellphone can’t do, but with each passing year that becomes more and more difficult. While there are thousands of apps available across many platforms, the majority of phone activity involves texting and messaging. Many Americans prefer talking to people via text than they do conversing by voice. Most would argue that it is just easier even if the discussion is of an intimate nature, otherwise known as “sexting.”

It is probably not hard for you to imagine how sexting can go wrong. The sending of salacious words or images may seem harmless, but there is little way to control what will be done with such material. Most romantic relationships do not end in marriage, some relationships end with bad blood between the two partners. Some may feel inclined to use lewd material exchanged via text against their ex’s, posting stuff online. This is not a trend relegated to adults only, practically every teenager has a smartphone and many young people “sext” each other. An alarming reality that resulted in legislation being passed in California last year to address cyber sexual bullying.

Assembly Bill No. 2536, authored by Assembly Member Ed Chau (D-Monterey Park), clarifies that sexting, with the purpose or effect of humiliating or harassing a pupil, is a part of cyberbullying and incorporates sexting curriculum as a part of comprehensive sex education programs, according to a press release. Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill into law on September 21, 2016.

AB 2536 was designed to protect young boys and girls who may fall victim to the unintended consequences of sexting. Seeing the value of continuing the conversation, Lauren Hersh, director of anti-trafficking policy and advocacy at Sanctuary for Families, spoke about "Raising Empowered Girls" on February 28, 2017, at 6:30 p.m., at the Hillview Middle School Performing Arts Center, 1100 Elder Avenue in Menlo Park, CA. The event was free and open to the public, The Almanac reported.

"Alarmed by the lack of early education around issues such as sexting, 'slut' shaming, pornography, sexual harassment, and the like, Lauren has dedicated time and energy to informing parents about the dangers our young girls, and boys, face online and in relationship, as well as empowering youth to do something about it," said Assistant Superintendent Erik Burmeister. 

There have been campaigns to educate people about the dangers of sexting across the country and abroad. It is important for Californians to know that sexting with minors is a crime. Receiving sexting photos and disseminating them can be a crime as well.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Patient Privacy Trumped By Protecting Minors

CANRA
When you or someone else sits down with a therapist, or medical professional of any kind,— they typically expect some level of privacy. That's what they say will be protected by the patient rights. Not only is patient privacy of the utmost importance to patients, it is vital to therapists for building a bond of trust with their patients. Without a relationship that is built upon a foundation of privacy, it is unlikely that patients will be honest about what they are struggling with; therefore, impeding any therapeutic progress.

But what happens when a patient’s right to privacy could result in potentially harming or continued harm of another? When it comes to the sexual exploitation of minors in California, the law says that a patient's right to privacy is trumped by a minor's right to protection. The Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act (CANRA) requires all licensed therapists in California, among others, to report to authorities when they have “reasonable suspicion” of child abuse or neglect. The legislation calls for therapists to report to police when a patient admits to viewing child pornography.

As you can probably gather on your own, there are some concerns about that last requirement. A two-year battle that was waged to protect patient rights came to a close when a California appeals court upheld a judge’s decision to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the requirement to report patients who viewed child pornography to the police, The Los Angeles Times reports. The group of therapists and counselors who filed the suit argued that the CANRA mandate violated a patient’s constitutionally protected privacy rights.

The Los Angeles County Superior Court judge who initially tossed out the lawsuit, stated that there’s no “zone of privacy” for illegal conduct, according to the article. A three-judge panel for the 2nd District Court of Appeals supported the ruling.

“Not only is it illegal, the conduct is reprehensible, shameful and abhorred by any decent and normal standards of society,” the ruling stated. “There is no egregious breach of social norms in requiring reports of such criminal activity.”

Katie Walsh has fought numerous cases of Child Pornography in Juvenile Court with good outcomes. Please contact the Law Office of Katie Walsh if your child has been involved in Sexting, Social Media or Child Pornography issues.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

AB 1843 Prohibits Access to Juvenile Records

AB 1843
Teenagers are notorious for making rash decisions, some of which can greatly impact the course of their life. Young people, just like adults, often find themselves caught up in the legal system for such decisions, but with an important exception. Minors are usually tried within the juvenile criminal system. The records of which that many believe will be sealed upon a minor reaching adulthood. The idea being that people should not have to answer for the bad decisions of their youth, for the rest of their life. Unfortunately, that is not the case and young people are required to petition to have their juvenile records sealed.

When people apply for a job, there is typically a section that asks applicants about their criminal history, that is their adult criminal history. While employers usually do not ask about one’s juvenile record, sometimes employers will inquire which could impact an individual's chance at getting hired.

Effective January 1, 2017, employers in California face new restrictions when it comes to inquiring into and the use of juvenile criminal information, The National Law Review reports. California Labor Code § 432.7 has been amended under Assembly bill (A.B.) No. 1843, which hereby prohibits employers from inquiring, seeking, or using a California applicant/employee’s juvenile criminal history in the employment context. AB 1843 prohibits:
  1. Asking an applicant to disclose, either in writing or verbally, information concerning or related to an arrest, detention, processing, diversion, supervision, adjudication, or court disposition that occurred while the individual was subject to the process and jurisdiction of juvenile courts/ law.
  2. Seeking from any source whatsoever, or using, as a factor in determining any condition of employment (e.g., hiring, promotion, termination, decisions related to a training program, etc.), any record concerning or related to an arrest, detention, processing, diversion, supervision, adjudication, or court disposition that occurred while the individual was subject to the process and jurisdiction of juvenile courts/law.
“The only exceptions apply to certain health care facilities, as defined in Section 1250 of the Health and Safety Code,” according to attorney, Sarah R. Nichols. “Those employers may ask applicants to disclose an arrest under any section specified in Section 290 of the Penal Code (for those positions with regular access to patients) or an arrest under any section specified in Section 11590 of the Health and Safety Code (for those positions with access to drugs and medication) in certain circumstances.” 

If you live in California and are interested in sealing your juvenile criminal record, please contact the Law Offices of Katie Walsh. While some juvenile crimes, such as murder, arson, robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, certain gun charges, carjacking are generally unable to be sealed, we can help you determine if you qualify and petition the court to have your record sealed. It is a decision that can help you later in life.