Tuesday, October 22, 2019

SB 328: School Start Time and Suspension

SB 328
Keeping kids in the classroom is key to ensuring that students perform well academically. Students who act out in class risk suspension or worse, expulsion. Young people can have behavioral problems in school for a myriad of reasons, issues at home or mental health conditions are two of the more common causes. However, there is some evidence suggesting that sleep deprivation could be playing a role in teenage behavior.

Researchers Kevin Bastian and Sarah Fuller of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill analyzed data from more than 400 North Carolina high schools, according to Education Dive. They determined that students who start classes later in the morning were less likely to be suspended. Starting class at 8:30 a.m. or later was also linked to higher overall GPAs among students.

The findings noted above are interesting and have given several lawmakers across the country food for thought, especially in California. In recent years, there have been several attempts to push back school start times to allow young people more sleep.

Even though there is a growing body of evidence showing the benefits of such a move, former Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a bill that would have had middle and high schoolers start class at 8:30 a.m. However, California Gov. Gavin Newsom has a decidedly different stance on the subject.

SB 328 Pupil Attendance: School Start Time

This month, Gov. Newsom signed Senate Bill 328 into law, making it so that most middle schools and high schools will start class later, The Los Angeles Times reports. The change will be phased in and should be fully implemented by the beginning of the 2022-23 school year.

SB 328 is controversial; many school officials and some lawmakers oppose the move to start class later, according to the article. Concerns have been raised that the change could affect bus routes and prevent parents from dropping their kids off at school before work. The California Teachers Association called Newsom’s signing of the bill “unfortunate.”

Gov. Newsom defended his support for the bill by pointing to the available science. Studies correlate more sleep from later start times with better academic performance and better health. For those reasons, SB 328 has the support of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the California Medical Association, and the California State Parent Teacher Association.

An impetus for the bill was a 2014 opinion from the American Academy of Pediatrics stating that middle and high schools shouldn’t begin class until 8:30 a.m. California is the first state in the nation to pass legislation mandating later start times

“Today, Gov. Newsom displayed a heartwarming and discerning understanding of the importance of objective research and exercised strong leadership as he put our children’s health and welfare ahead of institutional bureaucracy resistant to change,” said Sen. Anthony Portantino, who authored the legislation. “Generations of children will come to appreciate this historic day and our governor for taking bold action. Our children face a public health crisis. Shifting to a later start time will improve academic performance and save lives because it helps our children be healthier.” Please take a moment to watch a short video on the subject:

If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

California School Expulsion Attorney

If your son or daughter is having difficulty in school and is facing school expulsion, then you must seek the assistance of an experienced juvenile defense lawyer. At the Law Offices of Katie Walsh, we can advocate for your family and safeguard your child’s rights.

Attorney Walsh can help you navigate the school expulsion hearing process and may be able to negotiate alternatives to expulsion. Please contact our office today for a free consultation.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Assembly Bill 1076: Expungement of a Conviction

Ab 1076
At the Law Offices of Katie Walsh, we help our clients clean up their criminal records. Each case is unique, but it is often possible to have an expungement of a conviction after successfully finishing probation. In some cases, an expunged conviction allows people to honestly answer "no" to questions on applications that deal with their criminal history.

Historically, Californians would require the assistance of an attorney to request that their conviction be expunged. Said lawyer would petition the courts to that end and hopefully achieve a favorable outcome.

It's worth noting that not all convictions are eligible to have their criminal records cleaned up. For instance, people convicted of sex crimes are exempt. However, those found guilty low-level offenses have an excellent opportunity at petitioning the courts for an expungement of a conviction. It's a process; but, it's worth it when you consider how a criminal record can affect employment and housing prospects. 

The process of expungement will undergo some changes soon, thanks to a new law signed by Governor Gavin Newsom earlier this month.

Assembly Bill 1076 Criminal Records: Automatic Relief

Reforming California's criminal justice system is a chief priority among lawmakers. In recent years, many laws have been passed to end draconian policies; we've written about several reforms on this blog.

In May, we discussed a piece of legislation that would make getting one's conviction expunged less challenging. Assembly Bill 1076 Criminal Records: Automatic Relief by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) was signed by Governor Newsom on October 8, 2019, according to Mojave Desert News. AB 1076 was one of 25 bills meant to reform the criminal justice system.

The passing of AB 1076 creates an automated record clearance system for qualifying low-level offenses, according to the article. Those who qualify will be able to seal their records without having first to petition the court. The automated record clearance system will apply to individuals ​arrested or convicted after January 1, 2021. People with any pending criminal charges will be excluded from the new policy.

"People shouldn't have to pay for their mistakes for the rest of their lives. A fresh start improves an individual's chances of succeeding and reduces the likelihood of recidivism. Automating the record clearance process will enable former offenders to get back on their feet and lead productive lives," said Assemblymember Ting. "Our economy and society pay the price when job-seeking workers are shut out."

Cleaning Up Your Criminal Record

It will be a while before the automated system is up running; in the meantime, please contact The Law Offices of Katie Walsh if you would like to clean up your criminal record. Attorney Walsh can help you petition the court for an expungement of a conviction or a certificate of rehabilitation.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Juvenile Sentencing Law Changing Lives

Senate Bill 1391 is in the news once again, which probably won't come as a surprise to our readers. The law raised the age that juvenile offenders can be tried as adults from 14 to 16. We've been covering this legislation since last year, when former Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 1391 into law.

The bill may not mean much to most Californians, but to young offenders and their families it is monumental. As we've written previously, several counties have challenged the enactment of the new law. Opponents argue that it undermines Proposition 57. Approved in 2016, Prop 57 gave judges the power to decide whether juveniles as young as 14 should be tried as adults, instead of prosecutors. 

This summer, the First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco rejected Solano County's challenge to SB 1391. The final resolution will likely come about in the California Supreme Court in the near future. In the meantime, the law is still in play. Meaning, some young offenders are now looking at far lighter sentences than they would have last year.

From 65 Years to Six

Last year, two teenagers ages 14 and 15 were both looking at a 65-years-to-life sentence for an armed robbery. Thanks to SB 1391, Elijah Hall and Anthony Torres, then ages 14 and 15, are looking at six years, being eligible for parole at age 25, according to The Desert Sun. They were arrested in 2015 and sentenced to life for a spree of armed robberies.

They are both adults now and are serving their respective sentences, but the new juvenile sentencing law could mean that they will regain freedom much sooner.

One primary opponent of the SB 1391 is the judge who ruled on September 9th that the two men would be resentenced in juvenile court. Riverside County Superior Court Judge Russell Moore included an argument in his ruling that says the new law is unconstitutional, the article reports. He contends that lawmakers did not fully appreciate the impact of the new juvenile justice law and that it undermines the will of voters who approved Prop 57. Moore writes, "the Legislature unconstitutionally pulled the rug out from the voters."

"SB 1391 now means that juveniles 16 and older can conceivably be prosecuted in adult court for felony joyriding," he wrote in the ruling, "while those under 16 may not be prosecuted in adult court for rape, robbery, kidnapping, and murder." 

Two weeks ago, at the Indio Juvenile Courthouse, Judge Elizabeth Tucker ruled Hall and Torres will be resentenced to time in California's Division of Juvenile Justice rather than the state's prison system, according to the article. Her decision is per the new juvenile sentencing law.

Time will tell how the Supreme Court decides on this controversial bill. Inmates like Tucker and Hall may not walk out of the woods yet. We will continue to follow this remarkable story as it develops.

Orange County Juvenile Justice Attorney

If your son or daughter is facing criminal charges or school expulsion, then please contact The Law Offices of Katie Walsh. With experience as a prosecutor and defense lawyer, attorney Walsh has a unique understanding of the juvenile justice system. She has the experience and know-how to advocate for your family successfully. We invite you to reach out today for a free consultation. (714) 619-9355