Recently, Governor Jerry Brown signed a new bill into law that will change some of the penalties that juvenile offenders (i.e. those under the age of 18) might receive for certain sex crimes.
Known as "Audrie's Law," this bill had been written in response to a case involving the sexual assault of a 15-year-old girl. She had been unconscious when three teenaged boys assaulted her and then shared photos of the crime with classmates. Several days later, she committed suicide.
What new changes does the law bring?
The law applies to cases where teens perpetrate sex acts on someone who is unconscious due to drug or alcohol consumption, or someone who can't provide consent because of a disability.
It would require convicted teens to complete a treatment program for sex offenders that they themselves pay for. Also, the proceedings of the juvenile court could be made public; usually, this isn't the case for juvenile court, which operates with confidentiality. Juvenile offenders won't be able to protect their reputation with anonymity.
Initially, the bill also had mandatory minimum sentencing requirements, but these were taken out. For any given case, sentencing will depend on the specific court. (In the sexual assault case that led to the writing of Audrie's Law, the three teen boys who admitted to perpetrating the crime received somewhere in the range of 30 to 45 days of juvenile detention.)
What's also important to keep in mind?
Keep in mind that for some sex crimes, there are harsher penalties even for juvenile offenders. Some crimes can get juvenile offenders tried as adults. For example, juvenile offenders who commit rape, sodomy or oral copulation with the use of force or violence (or with the threat of great physical harm to the victim) could be tried as adults.
Also, crimes you get convicted of as a juvenile could affect you as an adult. They may count against you in future court proceedings, and in the case of sex crimes, they may require that you register as a sex offender. Sometimes, you can get your juvenile record sealed, but this isn't guaranteed.
If you're the parent of a minor who has been charged with a sex crime, you need an experienced juvenile law attorney to be your advocate in the court system. Don't hesitate to contact us if you live in the Temecula, Murrieta, Lake Elsinore, Hemet, Corona or Riverside areas. We have extensive experience working with both juveniles and adults. We will thoroughly review your case and all the evidence brought against you, and we will fight for you to receive the best outcome possible, whether you're being tried as a juvenile or as an adult.