The 3rd District Court of Appeal says that Prop. 57’s requirement that juvenile court judges, rather than prosecutors, decide whether a youth should be tried as an adult applies to charges filed before the measure passed in November: “immediately”
Proposition 57, passed by 64 percent of California’s voters, allowed early parole hearings for prisoners serving long terms for crimes that the law defined as nonviolent, and reduced prosecutors’ authority to charge juveniles in adult court.
Juveniles as young as 14 who are convicted in adult court can be sentenced to the same terms as adults — up to life in prison for murder and some crimes involving guns. Those convicted in juvenile court must be released at age 23, except in rare cases when a judge finds that a youth poses a danger to society.
A 2000 ballot measure allowed prosecutors to charge juveniles aged 14 to 17 in adult court. Prop. 57 restored the pre-2000 law, requiring a prosecutor to seek approval from a juvenile court judge, who would assess the youth’s record, background and charges before deciding where the case belonged. The law presumes that youths should be tried as juveniles unless prosecutors can prove otherwise.