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Would-be SF law seeks expanded safeguards for juvenile offenders

Kids are not adults. End of story.

That is a bottom-line observation from our immediately preceding blog post at the established Bay Area criminal defense Law Office of John W. Noonan. And it is coupled with our view -- adamantly supported by researchers, psychologists and thoughtful law enforcers spanning the country -- that “young people who are not yet adults shouldn’t typically be treated as if they are.”

Indeed, we stress in our January 2 post entry that juveniles often display “predictable lapses in judgment and failed appreciation for downside consequences.”

We know that our readers duly note the truth of that; after all, we were all once kids who dealt with the same limitations, challenges and growing pains. Collectively, they render it an imperative that there be some differentiation typically in how criminal cases are handled for minors as compared with the criminal processes relevant to adult offenders.

San Francisco Supervisor Hillary Ronen certainly agrees with that premise. Ronen recently introduced a would-be ordinance that seeks to augment and materially expand juvenile protections recently crafted by state legislators. California’s new law mandates an automatic right for offenders 15 years old or younger to secure legal counsel when they are taken into legal custody. Ronen and other reformers want to see that right extended in the Bay Area to offenders up to the age of 17.

Critics of many elements attached to juvenile in-custody and interrogation situations stress that it is not enough to simply intone Miranda rights to a minor.

“They have no idea what it means,” says one justice insider and commentator on the new legislation. Having the right to an attorney is not the same as ensuring that one stands beside a bewildered and frightened adolescent who is about to be questioned under challenging conditions.

That minors often make huge mistakes in thought and judgment while in custody is manifestly clear. One widely spotlighted study examining wrongful convictions and exonerations found juveniles to be “three times as likely to falsely confess as adults.”

Rosen’s introduced legislation centrally seeks to introduce safeguards that will guard against such travesties of justice.

Recent Case Results

  • Drunk Driving Offenses

    John was able to get client a reduction of charge of a DUI because of being a nurse it could mean her license.

    He secured a Drunk in Public , and she would attend a 3 month program. Additionally, the dmv hearing was also set aside.

    Both being a win for the client.

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  • Domestic Violence

    A client was arrested for a Felony Domestic Violence, could have devastated her potential for future employment. John was able to get the case dismissed. Client was thrilled.

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  • Juvenile Charges

    A juvenile was arrested for 2nd Degree Robbery. After 6 months the case was dismissed.

    A juvenile was arrested for Sexual Battery. After 6 months and 80 hours of Community service, the case was dismissed.

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  • Drunk Driving Offenses

    A client with a 1st DUI arrest. Fearing she would go to jail; lose her license for a year and lose her job. Got a wet reckless and minimal fines.

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  • Drug Charges

    A client with 4 Felony charges on a Transportation Charge, a Attempt to Sell, Possession of Marijuana, (50 pounds), Conspiracy Charge all where reduced to 1 Misdemeanor. No Jail.

    Client was charged with 6 Felony drug possessions. Facing jail time. The results: Client got a deferred entry of judgment and then dismissed.

    Client charged with several felony counts of possession of Marijuana with intent to sell. Client was involved in a medical marijuana grow. Case was reduced and later dismissed.

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  • Sex Crimes

    A client with alleged 2 Felony Sex charges and he faced jail and sex registration. The case was entirely dismissed.

    Client charged with prostitution; facing jail time and sex offender registration. Result: NO JAIL TIME AND NO SEX OFFENDER REGISTRATION Deferred Entry of Judgment.

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  • Domestic Violence

    Client charged with domestic violence, with great bodily injury. Case reduced to a misdemeanor with time served.

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