Senate Bill 439

Being a parent or a guardian is one of life’s joys, but this joy can be short-lived if the minor you care for is caught committing a crime. If arrested, your minor could face the juvenile judicial system. California has a juvenile justice system that aims at protecting children from facing the harsh adult judicial system that can have long-lasting negative effects on them.

Although the juvenile justice system’s main agenda is to rehabilitate minors found guilty of committing certain crimes, this system can leave behind long-lasting scars. According to research, most convicted juvenile offenders end up with long-lasting damaging psychological trauma and may become repeat offenders as they grow older.

Having your child undergo the arrest and the whole court process can be a very traumatic experience. Watching them handcuffed or the thought of them imprisoned is something that no parent would want to go through. You want to hire an attorney who will fight for your child and achieve the best possible outcome.

At The Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney, we will work hard to fight for your child’s rights. We will ensure that you understand the facts surrounding your child’s case and that your child receives the best counseling and rehabilitative help available.

What is Juvenile Delinquency?

Juvenile delinquency occurs when a minor aged between 10 to 17 years participates in an illegal act or starts exhibiting persistent mischievousness that is out of parental control. When your child or a little one commits a crime, they are adjudicated using different procedures to rehabilitate them.

1.  Causes of Juvenile Delinquency

Most minors find themselves violating state or federal laws by mistake. Most juvenile delinquents are too immature to make the right decisions, and most of them cannot control their actions. Several factors lead a minor to commit a crime; these factors include and are not limited to the following:

Broken Family

Family life helps mold and shape a young one’s character and behaviors. Most minors act out and start exhibiting juvenile delinquency behaviors when there is strife at home. If the family has bad relationships, it could lead to the minor becoming violent or committing crime to relieve the pressure at home or seek attention from the family members who are too involved in their issues to notice the minors.

Lack of proper Moral and Social Training

As a parent or a guardian, you are responsible for teaching the child both moral and ethical values as you raise them. When a child is not taught how to differentiate between a right and wrong behavior, they may commit crimes without realizing it. A child who is not trained will be selfish and probably arrogant, leading them into juvenile delinquency.

Proper training in moral and social values helps the child interact well with others and build their confidence level. When a parent or a guardian takes their time to train a little one, they raise the minor's self-esteem and let the child know that they are valued and loved.

Lack of Finances

When a family faces financial challenges, teens in the family could engage in criminal activities like selling drugs to raise finances. It is imperative to train any child under your care on the value of money and the traditional ways of raising the money. Let the child know how they can improve their financial status later on in life while teaching them the value of money. Train your child to respect other people’s property, and they will grow up to be respectful adults. A child who respects other people’s property will avoid stealing or selling the said property. They will know the value of that property to the owner and let it be.

2.  Types of Juvenile Delinquency

When it comes to juvenile delinquency, several factors contribute to the young ones, especially those between the ages of 10 and 12. There are four types of delinquent behaviors, and each class shows the root cause of delinquent behaviors. You shall also be taught how you help your loved one overcome delinquent behaviors and have a great future ahead without colliding with law enforcement agencies.

The four types of juvenile delinquencies are:

Individual Delinquency

When it comes to this type of juvenile delinquency, the minor commits delinquent acts alone without involving other people. This behavior’s root cause stems from within the individual, with psychiatrists believing that the minor’s dysfunctional family background causes it. When children come from broken families, they may act out to garner attention from their parents and other family members. A child may also act out in a manner that intends to show their displeasure with the way issues are dealt with at home.

Group-supported Delinquency

When it comes to group-supported delinquencies, the minor commits delinquent acts in the company of other people. The root cause of this type of failure is the culture and the neighborhood of the minor. A young person can easily be swayed and convinced to associate with other children who are already delinquents. Some children commit these delinquent acts in a bid to try and fit in with the other kids.

Organized Delinquency

In organized delinquencies, the crimes are committed by an organized group. When a minor joins this organized group, they are governed by the group's rules and regulations, and their behavior while in the group can either be rewarded or punished.

Situational Delinquency

When it comes to situational delinquencies, the minor committing the crime does not have some deep root causes for their behaviors. Most of the time, the offense is impulse-based, and the little one does them due to weak control issues.

When your loved one faces juvenile charges, there are several factors that the judicial system will consider. These factors are:

  • The Age of the Minor

A juvenile offense takes place when a person below the age of 18 commits a crime. California has set age limits for juvenile crimes to protect minors from the judicial systems’ harsh realities. The juvenile justice system has the following guidelines when it comes to the age of the children:

  • Between the ages of 16 and 18, a minor can be charged in an adult court if they commit a felony offense, like murder.
  • Below 18 years, they can face the juvenile system if their crimes are misdemeanors,
  • Below 12 years, they are not to be arrested, booked, or even brought forward to face a judge.
  • The Offence Committed

When a minor commits an offense, they will be prosecuted following the type of offense they have been accused of. If the crime committed is listed under California Penal code 1192.7 or 667.5, the minor may face charges in an adult court. The seriousness of the crime committed will decide which court the case will be tried in.

Offenses Mostly Committed by Children Aged Below 12 Years

There are several offenses that most children under 12 commit. These offenses are but not limited to:

  • Assault and battery,
  • Burglary,
  • Vandalism,
  • Arson,
  • Possession of drugs and other substances,
  • Petty theft,
  • Trespassing,
  • Robbery,
  • Indecent exposure,
  • Kidnapping,
  • Forcible rape,
  • The threat of bodily harm,
  • Murder,
  • Disturbing peace.

Senate Bill 439

On 30th September 2018, Californian Governor Jerry Brown made senate Bill 439 into law by signing it. California has passed a law that states that a person aged below 12 years can no longer face the juvenile judicial system.

The bill establishes the minimum age for minors to face the juvenile justice system. However, the only exceptions are when the minor commits the following crimes:

  • Rape,
  • Sodomy,
  • Murder,
  • Forcible sexual penetration,
  • Forcible oral copulation.

The California juvenile justice system has jurisdiction over the above crimes, even when the minor is below 12 years. However, the prosecution will have to prove that the little one used force, threat, menace, or violence while committing these crimes. Initially, before Senate Bill 439 came into law, the juvenile justice system had jurisdiction over all the minors who were under 18 in California.

What are the New Laws Under Senate Bill 439?

Under this law, the California juvenile justice system still has jurisdiction over the following instances:

  • When the minor is aged between 12 and 17 years.
  • When a minor commits offenses against the legal statutes of California or the United States laws.

Important Facts About Senate Bill 439

These are the critical considerations of the newly passed Senate bill 439:

  • No juvenile or criminal court has jurisdiction over minors aged 12 and below, and therefore, the children can not be arrested, booked, detained, or brought forward to face a judge.
  • All counties must come up with alternative ways to handle juvenile delinquents under 12 by 1st January 2020.
  • A minor aged 12 years and below can still face the juvenile system when they commit crimes like sodomy, rape, murder.

The juvenile courts have jurisdiction over these cases when the minor applies force, physical, which read as:

a) The legislature intends that children under the age of 12 behavings in a manner that brings them into contact with the juvenile justice system’s jurisdiction according to section 601 or 602 be protected and ensure that their safety is well maintained. The law expects the county to use existing funds to provide alternative ways that are less restrictive to rehabilitate these youths. The alternative methods when dealing with these minors can be school, community, or health-based.

b) Under Senate Bill 439, counties are advised to release any minor under the age of 12 years who come into contact with law enforcement agencies for committing actions listed under Section 601 or 602. The bill expects the counties to develop ways to determine the least restrictive measures to be used on the minors and release them to their caregivers, parents, or guardians.

According to Senate Bill 439, all counties should release under 12 years offenders to their caregivers, parents, or guardians as these minors are not under any juvenile jurisdictions. The law also requires the counties to work hand in hand with local law enforcement agencies to develop a framework used when interacting with children under 12 years.

The Reason Behind Senate Bill 439

There are several reasons why most people support this bill; they are:

  • Research shows that when a child undergoes the juvenile judicial system, they stand a great chance of becoming a repeat criminal offender as they grow older,
  • When a minor comes into contact with the judicial system, both their educational and developmental growth is negatively affected,
  • These new rules are more inclined to help with the child's brain development; the new law enables the child to develop at their own pace without outside influence,
  • The law targets a reduction in recidivism and a lifelong traumatic experience for most youth of color.

Guiding Principles for Senate Bill 439

The language used in Senate Bill 439 provides guiding principles to counties on how to implement its effectiveness in line with the law’s core values. The plans should include:

  • Counties should concentrate more on counseling and releasing minors under 12 to their caregivers, guardians, or parents when they are found committing offenses.
  • The counties should use less restrictive ways when handling minors by engaging school, community, or health-based services.
  • The authorities are expected to avoid offering intervention. Research shows that some youths react negatively when they think someone is interfering with their issues or problems.
  • The educational systems should embrace methods that address the root cause of the young person’s behavior, which will protect them from facing the harsh discipline applied to their actions.

Implementation of SB 439

Under Senate Bill 439, when dealing with juvenile delinquents who are under the age of 12, you must consider the following steps:

Dismiss Jurisdiction

The new law requires the following steps to be followed when dealing with a minor who is currently under the judicial system for a crime committed when the minor was under 12 years:

  • Step 1: investigating the number of minors involved in any probation.
  • Step2: investigation to be carried out on the number of minors detained in juvenile halls for allegedly committing offenses below 12 years.
  • Step 3: table a motion in the juvenile courts to dismiss the youths identified as having committed the offenses while they were below the age of 12 years.
  • Step 4: if possible, hold a detention hearing immediately to release the child to the caregivers, guardian, or parent.
  • Step 5: Recognize the minor’s needs and then refer them to organizations that will offer the little one the required services.

Develop an Interim Plan

Senate Bill 439 recommends that an interim plan be put in place to cater to youths in contact with the juvenile justice system before the full implementation of a countywide program.

Development of a Countywide Plan

Senate Bill 439 has provided guiding principles for the significant development of countywide plans that will accommodate the law’s spirit.

Considerations for a Countywide Plan

Under Senate Bill 439, the counties are advised to form a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the police and other law enforcement agencies on handling minors under 12. The MOU must include the following:

  • Come up with ways of ascertaining a child’s age.
  • Refer any child aged below 12 years,
  • Counsel the child and then release them to their parents, guardians, or caregivers.
  • Establish if the minor needs other services, and if they need these services, refer the child to an appropriate service provider.
  • Commit the minor to temporary custody if they pose a threat to themselves and others, following Welfare and Institutional Code (WIC) section 5585 laid down protocols.
  • If the child is sick, take them to the hospital immediately.
  • Follow protocol and contact both health and human services if the minor faces neglect and abuse from their caregivers, parents, or guardians.
  • Follow necessary protocols when the minor’s physical environment poses a threat to them.
  • Contact NCIS if the minor is from a different jurisdiction.

What Are The Key Factors When Making Judicial Decisions?

When a minor faces a juvenile judicial system, there are several factors that the judicial system puts into considerations, and these factors include:

  • Probation referrals
  • Petitions filed
  • WIC Section 654 Pre-petition probation, which doesn’t exceed six months
  • WIC Section 654.2 Informal probation which should not exceed six months
  • WIC Section 725 non-ward probation that is limited up to 6 months,
  • WIC section 602, which is wardship probation

Alternative to Arrests Under Senate Bill 439

Senate Bill 439 indicates that police should not arrest youth aged under 12 years. Law enforcement officers are required to carry out the following steps when a child commits an offense:

  • Verify the age of the minor.
  • Offer transportation if necessary.
  • They should not handcuff the minors.
  • They should not question the minors.
  • They should make a phone call to the child’s parent, guardian, or caregiver.
  • Document and share data with community-based organizations.
  • Communicate with CBO.

How does Community Based Organisations Work?

Community-based organizations programs are social methods used by social service providers to provide their services to minors facing challenges. CBOs act on the belief of assisting children and helping them transition to responsible adults later in life.

For a society to thrive, it needs its juvenile justice system to help rehabilitate the youth. But you will find that this is not the case, with most juvenile delinquents experiencing a lot of trauma when they go through the judicial system. With CBOs, the youth comes into contact with responsible adults who will mentor them into responsible adults.

CBOs constitute all community members like leaders, parents, business owners, law enforcement officers, grandparents, and other people whose sole intention is to see the youth prosper. There are several ways in which CBO helps in the rehabilitation of the juveniles; these methods include:

Recreation facilities

Recreational facilities offer activities to keep the youth busy during their after-school hours. Most children commit offenses that could land them in a juvenile justice system after school hours when they have some ample unsupervised time. When a young person enrolls in a recreational program, they keep their mind busy and build on positive friendships that will prove useful later on in their lives.


Most CBO programs offer families with information that helps raise well-rounded children. The information educates both the children and parents on the effects of drug abuse, weapons, sex, and the gang. This program aims at showing the youth their worth and that of other people. These training programs aim at showing the child their value and how they can contribute to a prosperous society. The programs also train the caregivers, parents, or guardians to assist in perfectly molding their children. With education, the child is given hope for a better tomorrow and is also given ample opportunities to arise.

Community Involvement

CBO allows the youth to interact with other community members, which provides them with a safe environment to interact with other people.

Parent-Child Training

This program aims to train parents with young children aged between 2 to 7 years who have behavioral issues, parental skills and train them to handle their children.

Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me

When your child or a minor under your care faces a juvenile charge, the experience can be traumatizing for you and the child as well. Your child may suffer due to an offense they committed knowingly or not, which could lead them to become repeat offenders if they are not correctly handled.

You want to seek the help of an attorney who understands the repercussions of having a juvenile record. When you seek the services of an experienced attorney, seek someone who will work hard to ensure that your child leads an everyday life after the offense.

At The Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney, we have defense attorneys who understand the juvenile justice system well. We will work hard to ensure your minor receives all the help they will need to resume their everyday lives. You can contact us at 310-564-2605 and receive the best legal representation for your child.

Free Case Evaluation

Call 310-564-2605 24/7 if you want to retain excellent attorneys.

Los Angeles Criminal Attorney Review

Facebook Reviews for Criminal Defense

Los Angeles Criminal Attorney Reviews

Criminal Defense Reviews

5.0 out of 5.0
Based on 73 reviews
City: The Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney