Katie's Blog

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

SB-1391
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

Monday, September 23, 2019

Child Abuse: A Pathway to the Juvenile Justice System

juvenile justice
Abuse or adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) can significantly alter the course of a child's life and lead to severe problems. Trauma of any kind can leave an indelible mark on a person's psyche. With treatment and support for social services, children may adopt unhealthy behaviors due to a shortage of coping mechanisms.

Many adults who struggle with drugs and alcohol or have run-ins with the law have a history of trauma stemming from physical and sexual abuse. In an attempt to escape one's symptoms, turning to mind-altering substances appears to be a logical choice. Illicit drug use can lead to legal problems for young people. Some will even commit burglaries or theft in order to afford their drugs, which can be another path to the juvenile or criminal justice system.

What's more, young people who suffer at the hands of abusive parents can find their way into legal troubles in some unexpected ways. Running away from home to escape violence can precipitate arrests, as can fighting back against one's abuser.

Child Abuse Leads to Incarceration


Experiencing abuse in the home appears to be a common precursor to involvement with the justice system. Janelle Hawes, Ph.D. and Jerry Flores, Ph.D. conducted interviews with 33 girls at a juvenile detention center in southern California that supports the above statement, according to the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange. They found that abuse played a role in these young girls’ first involvement with the juvenile justice system.

The researchers discovered that parents or guardians abused 14 of the girls, the article reports. Some of the girls stated that fighting back against their oppressors resulted in arrests and detention. Others were arrested for running away from home to escape further abuse. Another path to the juvenile justice system was reporting their abuse to institutional actors like police and social workers. Below you will find a few examples of these types of instances:

"I love my mom, my mom used to beat the f-lip out of me, like crap out of me and one day I pulled a knife on her and I told her to stop and they put me in a damn mental institution," said Debby, 14. 

Aracely, 19, first got involved in the juvenile justice system after reporting her abuse to a criminal justice officer at school, according to the article. The officer took her to talk to the father (her abuser) and then decided that Aracely actions were tantamount to running away and arrested her. She said: 

"… I had went to school, 'cause um, I was scared of going back home. I didn't wanna go back home with my dad [because of abuse] … I was like, oh I don't wanna go with my dad, like, I don't really wanna go with him and then they're like 'we're gonna talk to your dad' and they came back, they came back into the room and they told me to get up and put my hands behind my back and that's when I got arrested."

Annabelle, 17, had a similar experience to Arcely. Escaping the abuse meant running away which lead to arrests. "Me and my father have never been close. Um, and I would always — I felt left out so I'd always go out there on the streets. I would run away a lot and then my father would kick me out. He would call the cops and say that I ran away and I started getting in trouble with the cops."

Once a young person gets into the criminal or juvenile justice systems, they are far more likely to have run-ins with the police in the future. Research shows that young people need resources, support, and therapy, not juvenile detention. Running away from abuse should not be a crime or the impetus for juvenile detention.

California Juvenile Justice Attorney


Please contact The Law Offices of Katie Walsh for a free, confidential consultation. We can help you determine if we can assist you with your son's or daughter's legal or school troubles. As a former prosecutor, attorney Walsh is uniquely equipped to advocate for the needs of your family and help obtain the best possible outcome in your child's case. (714) 619-9355.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Juvenile Delinquency Rates in America

Juvenile Delinquency
Coming into contact with the juvenile justice system can have a lasting impact on a person's life. Once arrested and placed into a detention center, the likelihood of it occurring again exponentially increases. In most cases, young people who get into trouble with the law are better served by alternatives to incarceration.

Reducing recidivism among young Americans must be a chief priority in the U.S. Our adult prisons are overcrowded thanks to the imprisonment of hundreds of thousands of nonviolent offenders. Mandatory minimum sentencing laws have not helped either; although efforts have been made to roll back draconian sentencing laws in recent years.

Many people currently serving time in adult jails and prisons had interactions with the juvenile justice system. It stands to reason that doing a better job rehabilitating young people could prevent scenarios like that from happening.

The Children's Defense Fund (CDF) is an organization dedicated to rehabilitating youths and prevent recidivism. The organization writes:

"We work to ensure more humane and rehabilitative prevention and treatment for all children who come in contact with the juvenile justice system, especially children of color who historically have been disproportionately impacted." 

To stop the criminalization of children and ensure justice for all youth, the CDF calls for: more federal resources for youth justice reform, closing youth prisons and investing in restorative, community-based solutions, and putting an end to solitary confinement for children.

New Report on Juvenile Delinquency Rates


Researchers at Frontpoint Security analyzed data from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention to find the number of arrests made per 100,000 young people between the ages of 10 and 17, Patch reports. They sought to determine which states had the highest and lowest youth delinquency rates. For instance, California ranked 37th overall.

The research only looked at two types of crime: juvenile larceny (stealing without threatening anyone) and juvenile robbery (stealing by force or threat). In 2017, there were 73 juvenile robbery arrests and 264 juvenile larceny arrests in California, according to the article. Over 300 arrests may seem like a lot until you look at Maryland and Louisiana.

Maryland had 205 juvenile robbery arrests in 2017, the highest rate in the country. The data indicate that Louisiana topped the chart for juvenile larceny arrests with 1,173. Maryland came in first for the highest juvenile theft rates, and Louisiana came in second. West Virginia had the lowest teenage arrest rate.

Fortunately, there is evidence that juvenile delinquency is on the decline. Organizations like the CDF are helping to make even more significant reductions a reality. Frontpoint Security writes:

"... there's hope for children and teens who have committed crimes—rehab programs that take a therapeutic approach can help them reverse course, and juvenile justice advocates work hard to give them a second chance."

Orange County Juvenile Defense Attorney


If your son or daughter has been arrested for larceny or robbery, then please contact The Law Offices of Katie Walsh. Attorney Walsh is a former prosecutor which means she has a unique understanding of both sides of the courtroom. She can help your family find a favorable outcome to this unfortunate situation.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Senate Bill 419 Signed Into Law

SB 419
While it might be hard for some people to fathom elementary school students being suspended for not cooperating in class, it’s a common occurrence in California. Each year, thousands of kids are removed from the classroom for what is known as disruption and willful defiance. We have written about this subject on numerous occasions.

On this blog, we have also covered some of the potential consequences of class removals at a young age. Whenever a student isn’t in class, they are at significant risk of getting into more trouble. The school-to-prison pipeline starts with suspension and expulsion.

In recent years, several lawmakers have worked tirelessly to enact laws that would protect young and vulnerable students. Statistics show that minorities and youths with disabilities are suspended and expelled at far higher rates than their white peers.

The ultimate goal is to ban school suspensions for “defiant and disruptive behavior” in grades K-12. However, the effort has been met with significant pushback, forcing lawmakers to amend their legislative proposals to cater to the wishes of the opposition.

One bill that we have discussed frequently is Senate Bill 419. It is already against the law to suspend K-3 students for defiant and disruptive behavior; SB 419 would expand on that to include grades 4 through 8.

Governor Newsom Signs Senate Bill 419


On Monday, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law Senate Bill 419, The Sacramento Bee reports. Effective July 1, 2020, SB 419 ends the practice of willful defiance suspensions in grades four and five. The same is true in grades six through eight but only for a five-year provisional period.

The author of the bill, Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, said that SB 419 would “keep kids in school where they belong and where teachers and counselors can help them thrive.” She added that the bill “may be one of the best ways to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline.”

Naturally, the signing of SB 419 was lauded by civil rights activists, including Dolores Huerta. The labor leader, civil rights activist, and awardee of the United States Presidential Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Human Rights and the Presidential Medal of Freedom said:

“I strongly believe that SB 419 will bring justice to California youth by eliminating suspensions for disruption and defiance, putting an end to discriminatory discipline policies and instituting restorative justice practices.” 

Please take a moment to watch a short video on the subject:


If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

California School Discipline Attorney


Please reach out to The Law Offices of Katie Walsh for a free consultation if your child is facing expulsion from school. Attorney Walsh has extensive experience in these matters and can negotiate with your child’s school district. Mrs. Walsh can also represent your family at the school expulsion hearing. She will advocate for your child and fight for alternatives to expulsion.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

ACLU Lawsuit Ends YAT Program

YAT Program
Last summer, we wrote about the Riverside County Youth Accountability Team Program (YAT) and how it treated teens, never convicted of crimes, as criminals. The program was designed to scare kids, mostly black and Latinos, straight. However, all the initiative did was contribute to the school-to-prison pipeline. Kids whose only infractions were a failure to cooperate with school faculty members found themselves on probation.

As we pointed out last year, the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, Northern California, San Diego, and the National Center for Youth Law filed a lawsuit to end the YAT program. In July, the ACLU announced that their efforts paid off; a settlement was reached with the federal district court that severs the relationship between Riverside County school districts and the probation department.

The YAT program has been in place since 2001; thousands of young people have been needlessly affected and had their rights violated since its inception. Probation is not an effective way to address the needs of children who have bad grades or struggle with trauma and mental health issues. The proposed settlement will hopefully lead to kids getting much-needed resources.

Setting an Example for the Nation


Even though research shows that juvenile probation is ineffective and even harmful to young people, that was the model for the last 18 years. Youths who were unable to stay on track in school found themselves in the criminal justice system.

The ACLU was able to show the court that the YAT program subjected kids to lengthy lists of conditions with zero-tolerance consequences. Young people in the program were regularly drug tested and had to deal with surprise searches of their home and person.

Rather than diverting students to law enforcement for non-criminal offenses like truancy and defiance, they will now receive counseling and other school and community-based supports. The ACLU writes that the county has committed reinvesting millions of dollars in community organizations that will better serve young people than the criminal justice system.

Students who commit crimes will be guaranteed the right to legal representation throughout the entirety of diversion. They will no longer be subject to rules and restrictions that violate their rights. What’s more, probation officers will undergo specialized training to ensure they comply with the new protocols.

The ACLU hopes that Riverside County’s new approach will one day serve as a model for juvenile justice nationwide.

Orange County, CA Juvenile Criminal Attorney


If your son or daughter is facing criminal charges or a school expulsion hearing in California, then The Law Offices of Katie Walsh can help. Attorney Walsh has the experience and knowledge to advocate for your family effectively. Please contact us today to learn more.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Suspension and Expulsion, in Preschool

suspension and expulsion
Kicking young people out of school for misbehaving is nothing new, but it is an issue that requires consideration. The science tells us that removing kids, of all ages, from classrooms for minor infractions can start them on a path toward further problems. The school-to-prison pipeline begins with suspension and expulsion.

While most people associate class removals with high school students, it’s also a common occurrence at middle schools, elementary, and preschools. If you find it hard to believe that preschoolers could do anything so severe as to warrant suspension or expulsion, then you are not alone. However, the practice is far more common than you’d probably think.

A 2016 federal study found that an estimated 50,000 preschoolers had been suspended in the previous year, according to the Center for American Progress. Moreover, some 17,000 preschoolers were expelled during the same period. That is 250 youngsters who were being removed from the classroom each day.

Actions have been taken by lawmakers and school officials to end the practice of suspending and expelling the youngest Americans in recent years. California has banned suspending children in grades K-3 for disrupting or willful defiance. Lawmakers have passed legislation that would expand the existing law to include students up to 8th grade. Unfortunately, many young children residing in other states do not have the same protections.

Suspension and Expulsion in Preschool


Even in states that have protections for young people, that encourage schools to intervene rather than expel, a significant number of kids are falling through the cracks. NBC News reports that children under five are being suspended and expelled from preschool, even though they live in cities and states that have acted to prevent such occurrences.

A study conducted in 2005 shows that preschoolers are three times more likely to be expelled. The numbers are even more severe when looking at young people of color and those with disabilities. Another study shows that kids who are removed from classrooms are ten times more likely to drop out of high school. They are at more significant risk of being arrested too.

Laws prohibiting the suspension and expulsion of young people are a step in the right direction. However, not enough is being done to train teachers and fund intervention programs, according to the article. Cemeré James, senior vice president of policy for the National Black Child Development Institute, said:

“When you institute a ban and just a ban with no funds and no support for implementation, you in my opinion are basically doing nothing. If there’s no funding to train teachers and educators to engage with young children in new and different ways, then you’re not changing anything.” 

Teachers must be taught effective techniques for supporting young people. Acting out in class is often a sign that a child is having problems at home or is struggling with emotional and cognitive issues. California has more resources than the vast majority of states and can provide resources to preschools, the article reports. Mental health professionals work with educators to help them better meet the needs of challenging students. 

Orange County School Expulsion Attorney


Attorney Katie Walsh has extensive experience in school discipline matters. If your son or daughter is facing the prospect of expulsion, then it helps to have a representative who can advocate for your loved one’s well-being. Please contact The Law Offices of Katie Walsh to learn how we can help you negotiate alternatives to expulsion.