Wednesday, February 21, 2018

California Supreme Court On Prop. 57

Proposition 57
In 2016, we covered the important topic of California Proposition 57 and its implications regarding juvenile law. Considering the fact that many young people do not fully understand the consequences of their actions, voters across the state approved the passing of Prop 57. The law takes the power of deciding which minors are tried in adult court out of the hands of prosecutors; instead, under the new legislation discretion is given to judges to determine in which court teenagers belong.

It was still unclear at the time of Proposition 57’s approval and signing into state law how it would affect minors who were already looking at standing trial in adult court. Would the new law be retroactive for the thousands of minors who were awaiting trial in adult court in November of 2016? A decision was reached regarding such individuals; on February 1, 2018, the California Supreme Court broadly expanded the scope of Prop. 57, according to U.S. News & World Report. The highest court in the state ruled that the law applies to pending cases at the time of the vote.


A Chance for Rehabilitation


The adult criminal justice system is a far cry from the juvenile court regarding punishment. Minors convicted of a crime in such cases can expect much stiffer sentences. The Supreme Court's decision brings with it new hope for young people across the state. Please keep in mind that the law isn’t any guarantee that a juvenile will escape adult court, just that they are entitled to a special hearing to decide if the higher adult court is warranted.

"While a person convicted of serious crimes in adult court can be punished by a long prison sentence, juveniles are generally treated quite differently, with rehabilitation as the goal," said Associate Justice Ming Chin, writing for the state Supreme Court. “The possibility of being treated as a juvenile in juvenile court — where rehabilitation is the goal — rather than being tried and sentenced as an adult can result in dramatically different and more lenient treatment.”

The Supreme Court also decided that Prop. 57 should even apply to youths appealing their convictions, according to the article. Beyond juvenile law, Proposition 57 allows adult felons the ability to try to obtain parole faster. California corrections officials have more discretion than before in regard to granting early release credits.


Juvenile Offense Attorney


At the Law Offices of Katie Walsh, we specialize in defending juvenile offenders in California. Please contact our office if your juvenile son or daughter is facing criminal charges. Having the right defense attorney in your corner can make a significant difference; we can help you achieve the best possible outcome for your child.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Marsy's Law Nationwide Meets Resistance

Marsy's Law
The rights of victims are of the utmost importance; a sentiment shared by billionaire Henry Nicholas. The co-founder of the tech company Broadcom was instrumental in the creation of Marsy’s Law, or California’s Proposition 9: The Victims Bill of Rights; Nicholas advocated for the bill after his sister Marsalee was murdered. Under the law, passed on November 4, 2008, the family members of victims can address the judge and request the judge to deny any further continuances from the defense in a given case. The idea is that drawing out the length of a case adds to the agony victim’s family members must endure.

The State of California Department of Justice points out that Marsy’s Law:
  • Protects and expands the legal rights of victims of crime in several areas.
  • Gives victims the right to legal standing, protection from the defendant, notification of all court proceedings, and restitution.
  • Requires parole boards to notify families of any changes to an offender's incarceration.
  • Grants parole boards more power to deny inmates parole.


Marsy’s Law Nationwide


A team of lobbyists, public relations firms, and high-powered political strategists are working to encourage more states to adopt a victims bill of rights, CBS SF Bay Area reports. Nicholas is using his fortune to make Marsy’s Law a reality, nationwide. While you might think that other states would be excited about protecting the rights of victims, that is not the case.

Some communities are concerned that adopting a victims bill of rights could lead to crippling costs and administrative burdens, the article reports. Opponents argue that victim-notification requirements are costly, and such mandates could be too much for small towns and counties with few resources. Montana passed legislation intended to protect the rights of victims in 2016.

“Our local government does not have enough money to operate and protect victims adequately already. Now we have these unfunded mandates that are coming through Marsy’s Law to local governments without the resources to pay for them,” said Leo Gallagher, county attorney in Lewis and Clark County, Montana. 

Montana’s Supreme Court recently struck the bill down in light of problems with the bill's writing. It’s fair to say that several other states are wrestling with the same issues Montana faced with Marsy’s Law.


Juvenile Offense Attorney


At the Law Offices of Katie Walsh, we specialize in defense of juvenile offenders in California. Additionally, as a victims rights attorney, Katie Walsh helps you pursue justice while acting as a compassionate advocate and trusted confidante. Please contact us today; we can help.