The California Supreme Court rejected a challenge by district attorneys
to a new state law that prohibits the prosecution of 14 and 15-year-old
in adult court where the youth could face long sentences in state prison.
The California Supreme Court justices denied review of a ruling by a San
Francisco State Appeals Court upholding the law despite the prosecutor’s
challenge that the new law violated a 2016 ballot measure allowing juvenile
court judges to transfer youth’s cases to adult criminal court.
The ruling is binding on trial courts statewide. Judges in Santa Cruz,
Kern and Riverside counties had declared the new law invalid earlier this
year. Appellate courts could disagree with the ruling returning the issue
to the state’s high court to resolve. An appeals court in Sacramento
upheld the law in a separate case last week.
Before the new law went into effect a 1995 state law allowed defendants
as young as 14 to be charged as adults. The new law known as SB 1391 refers
youths aged 14 and 15 to juvenile court where the maximum confinement
ends at age 25. According to a state report from 2015, 67 youths aged
14 or 15 were prosecuted in adult court that year.