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The juvenile felony arrest rate in California decreased by 46 percent between 1995 and 2005. A successful petition to expunge a juvenile case will make the case deemed to have never occurred.
People who are still juveniles may want a case expunged before they are an adult for many reasons. For your information, you can read about expunging juvenile cases on the court's juvenile expungement help page.
A felony is the most serious type of crime, and an individual convicted of a felony may be sentenced to state prison under certain circumstances. California law also gives law enforcement and prosecutors the discretion to charge certain crimes as either a felony or a misdemeanor. In 1976, the state enacted a new sentencing structure for felonies, called determinate sentencing, which took effect the following year. Most individuals adjudicated for sex crimes in California (both felonies and misdemeanors) are required to register with local law enforcement for the remainder of their lives.
Almost two-thirds of these arrests were for misdemeanors, while one-third were for felonies. Almost two-thirds of all adult felony arrests were of people between the ages of 20 and 39. A majority of felony arrests were of Blacks or Hispanics, with Hispanics making up just over half of all juvenile felony arrests.
There were a total of 420,000 felony arrests in 2011 (377,000 adult felony arrests and 43,000 juvenile felony arrests). As compared to adult felony arrests, a higher percentage of juvenile felony arrests are for property crimes while a lower percentage are for drug crimes. About one-fourth of adult and juvenile felony arrests were for violent crimes, including homicide, rape, and robbery. Almost two-thirds of both felony and misdemeanor arrests were made by city police departments.
In contrast, filings for felonies, misdemeanors, and juvenile delinquency cases have remained fairly stable over the past decade.
Under certain circumstances a juvenile can be tried in adult court, rather than in juvenile court.
Judges and district attorneys have discretion to transfer or file many cases in either the adult or juvenile court. In 2009-10, almost four-fifths of all felony court cases ended with a defendant pleading guilty prior to trial. Since 1996, the Legislature has enacted various measures to shift to counties a significant share of responsibility for managing juvenile offenders. In this chapter, we provide information on the adult and juvenile correctional populations managed by county and state departments. In 2010-11, California counties spent a total of about $5 billion on adult and juvenile corrections. This decline is primarily attributable to the 2011 realignment legislation which (1) limited prison commitments to felons who have a current or prior conviction for a serious, violent, or sex offense and (2) limited state parole to felons whose current offense is serious or violent.
A felony is the most serious type of crime, for which an offender may be sentenced to state prison for a minimum of one year. In 1976, the Legislature and the Governor enacted a new sentencing structure for felonies, called determinate sentencing, which took effect the following year. There were almost 1.5 million arrests of adults and juveniles for felonies and misdemeanors in California in 2005. The share of arrests that are misdemeanors and felonies has remained constant over the past ten years.
In 2004-05, there were 1.2 million felony and misdemeanor dispositions in California’s Superior Courts. About 2.2 percent of felony cases go to a jury trial, a significantly higher proportion than for misdemeanor cases, but still a very small portion of the total.
Of felony cases that do not go to jury trial, 80 percent are plea-bargained and 20 percent result in acquittals, dismissals, or transfers. Of the 344,000 adults on probation in 2005, 77 percent were on probation for a felony, with the remainder misdemeanors. The fact that individuals committing violent crimes make up a relatively small share of the total sentenced to local corrections largely reflects the fact that violent crimes represent less than 19 percent of all felony convictions.
Over the past 16 years, the Legislature has enacted various measures which realigned to counties a significant share of responsibility for managing juvenile offenders. As part of his 2012–13 budget plan, the Governor proposes completing the realignment of juvenile justice by stopping new admissions of offenders to state Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) facilities on January 1, 2013. We recommend that the Legislature adopt a comprehensive juvenile justice realignment plan that completes the shift of responsibility to counties. When a juvenile is arrested by a local law enforcement agency in California, there are various criminal justice outcomes that can occur depending on the circumstances of the offense and the criminal history of the offender. Because state and federal law require juvenile offenders to be separated from adult prison inmates, juveniles sentenced to state prison in adult court are currently housed in a DJJ facility. According to the California Department of Justice, there were about 186,000 juvenile arrests made in California in 2010, including 52,000 juvenile felony arrests.
Over the years, the Legislature has taken steps to shift key responsibilities for managing juvenile offenders to the counties. While data for comparable local juvenile costs are not available, reports from some probation chiefs suggest counties' costs to house serious juvenile offenders are generally lower, though these amounts vary widely.
The Governor's proposal to shift responsibility for all juvenile offenders from the state to the counties is generally consistent with recommendations we have made over the years. Although the Governor's juvenile realignment proposal merits legislative consideration, there are a number of issues that will need to be addressed in order for it to work efficiently and effectively. Based on the data provided by CSA, it appears that counties collectively have more than three times enough beds to house the additional juvenile offenders that would be realigned under the Governor's proposal, as shown in Figure 6.
It is unclear from the Governor's proposal whether, in the absence of DJJ, the state would continue to be responsible for housing juveniles sentenced to state prison from adult courts, or whether counties would be required to house these offenders at least until they reach age 18.
Under current state law, juvenile offenders can be housed in DJJ facilities until age 25 and in county facilities until age 21. Given its potential benefits, we recommend that the Legislature adopt the Governor's proposal to complete the realignment of juvenile justice to the counties. In order for juvenile justice realignment to be successful, counties must have maximum flexibility in how they can use their realignment funds. Children under the supervision of a juvenile court or a probation department, or children at risk of being wards of the court, and their families. As previously mentioned, BSCC was established to provide some statewide oversight of local corrections, as well as provide technical assistance and facilitate the use of best practices in local corrections (including juvenile corrections). We recommend that the Legislature adopt legislation requiring that juveniles sentenced to state prison be housed locally: (1) until age 18 or (2) in lieu of prison altogether if their sentence would end before their 21st birthday. We make two recommendations to minimize a potential increase in juveniles tried in adult court, and therefore an increase in state prison costs. Over the years, the state has shifted key juvenile justice responsibilities to counties in order to facilitate more successful public safety outcomes.
The Texas Juvenile Justice Department (TJJD) is responsible for overseeing all youth correctional facilities in the state of Texas. Three percent of youth offenders referred to county juvenile probation departments each year are committed to TJJD institutions. Despite the statewide decrease in staff-on-youth assaults at juvenile correctional facilities, the rate of youth-on-youth assaults has increased following the 2007 legislative reforms. Debbie Unruh, the Texas Juvenile Justice Department's independent ombudsman, said in a letter that she took seriously advocates' request for an investigation of youth-on-youth violence at the state's secure facilities and that she would conduct a thorough study. On the heels of a Tribune report detailing a more than threefold increase since 2007 in the rate of confirmed youth-on-youth assaults at Texas Juvenile Justice Department facilities, advocates are calling for an investigation into systemic problems at the agency.
With the closure of two previous youth agencies, lawmakers and advocates hope to see cost savings and better results out of the new Texas Juvenile Justice Department. Since abuse scandals rocked the Texas juvenile justice system in 2007, reforms have led to fewer youths in prison and less crime among youths, but a national report issued Tuesday indicates Texas could still improve.The report by the Annie E.
Texas youths who get crossways with the law could soon find themselves under the supervision of a new state juvenile justice agency whose main mission is to keep young offenders close to home and quickly headed in a more positive direction.
Hours after the state Senate passed a bill Wednesday that would merge the state's two juvenile criminal justice agencies, a House committee passed a similar bill.

The Texas Youth Commission and the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission would be combined into a new Texas Juvenile Justice Department under a bill the Texas Senate approved today. Abolishing the state's two existing juvenile justice agencies and creating one new department to prevent crime and treat and punish young offenders could save Texas up to $150 million, state Rep. Property crimes-such as burglary and theft-accounted for about 40 percent of all juvenile felony arrests. Sentencing law generally defines three types of crimes: (1) felonies, (2) misdemeanors, and (3) infractions. Individuals convicted of felonies who are not sentenced to state prison are sentenced to county jail, supervised by the county probation department in the community, or both.
Prior to 1977, convicted felons received indeterminate sentences in which the term of imprisonment included a minimum with no prescribed maximum. The crimes reported in these statistics are primarily felonies and include murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft. This is down from a high of over 2 million felonies reported annually in the early 1990s.
The percent of adult felony arrestees that were Hispanic was similar to the proportion of the population in California as a whole. There were a total of 1,572 arrests for homicide in 2011, which is about 0.4 percent of all felony arrests. By contrast, county sheriffs’ departments made one-third of felony and one-quarter of misdemeanor arrests. In 2011, roughly 74,000 juvenile cases in California were adjudicated in juvenile courts and 548 juvenile cases were adjudicated in adult courts.
The average cost was roughly $2,600 for felony cases and $980 for juvenile delinquency cases. Although the Legislature and Governor enact laws that define crimes and set penalties, judges exercise some discretion in sentencing adult and juvenile offenders.
California Penal Code also classifies certain felonies as “violent” or “serious.” Violent felonies include murder, robbery, and rape.
Under this structure, most felony punishments have a defined release date based on the “triad” sentencing structure.
Proposition 21, approved by the voters in 2000, expanded the types of cases for which juveniles can be tried in adult court. Enacted in 2004, this measure required state and local law enforcement agencies to collect samples of deoxyribonucleic acid, commonly known as DNA, from all convicted felons, some nonfelons, and certain arrestees for inclusion in the state’s DNA data bank. Under current law, only juveniles adjudicated for a serious, violent, or sex offense can be sent to state facilities by the juvenile courts. Many juveniles who are arrested, particularly if their alleged offenses are more serious, are referred to county probation departments. In the same year, the courts ordered counties to manage about 60,000 juvenile offenders, generally on county probation or in a local facility, and sent 740 juvenile offenders to DJJ or state prison. Approximately a decade later, the state enacted Chapter 175, Statutes of 2007 (SB 81, Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review), which limited admission to DJJ only to juveniles who are violent, serious, or sex offenders. As a result of these prior realignments, as well as an overall reduction in juvenile crime, the DJJ population has decreased substantially since 1996. The Governor's budget for 2012–13 includes a plan to complete the realignment of juvenile justice to counties.
Under the administration's plan, the state would provide counties with ongoing funding to help them manage the increase in juvenile caseload resulting from the proposed realignment.
As a result of the trigger reductions that were enacted as part of the 2011–12 budget and recently put in place, current law requires counties, as of January 1, 2012, to reimburse the state $125,000 per year for each juvenile offender committed by the courts to DJJ.
Managing juvenile offenders at the local level has several advantages compared to housing offenders in state facilities. Realigning full responsibility for juvenile justice to the local level also gives counties the ability to adopt policies and strategies that are better aligned with the particular needs of their communities and juvenile offenders.
As described earlier in this report, the state has undergone three separate juvenile justice realignments since 1996, reducing the DJJ ward population by about 90 percent. Though the administration estimates that the ward population would reach zero in 2015, we think it could take several more years for that to occur because of how long DJJ can keep wards sent by the juvenile courts. These concerns include not having appropriate facility space to house these more serious juvenile offenders, as well as appropriate staffing and program capacity to address any specialized needs that these offenders may have (such as mental health or sex offender treatment).
Given the limited data currently available on the existing capacity of county juvenile facilities, these concerns are difficult to validate. However, it is unclear how many of the county juvenile facilities are designed to accommodate the more serious offenders who may require a higher level of security, longer commitment times, and different types of treatment. Specifically, we recommend the Legislature adopt trailer bill language that mirrors the allocation formula adopted in SB 81 as part of the 2007 juvenile justice realignment. Based on BSCC's analysis, the Legislature may want to evaluate whether counties would benefit from additional funds to build or retrofit juvenile facilities to accommodate the housing and program needs of the realigned juvenile population. Thus, we believe that BSCC should play an active role in helping counties (1) ensure that they have sufficient and appropriate space at their juvenile facilities and (2) develop effective programs for the realigned juvenile offenders.
First, we recommend the Legislature adopt legislation to extend local juvenile court jurisdiction from age 21 to 25 for those offenses currently eligible for DJJ commitment.
We believe that the Governor's plan to realign the remaining juvenile offenders to counties represents the final step in this transition.
Texas Juvenile Justice Department Administrators say the take the report seriously and taking action. Casey Foundation outlined a list of recommendations for states to improve their juvenile justice systems. Smith on grave matters and state regulation, Hamilton on the college pipeline at San Antonio's Jefferson High, Hu on a senator's anticlimactic return, Grissom on the coming closure of juvenile lockups, Aguilar on the return of residents to their drug-war-torn Mexican town, Galbraith on next session's energy agenda, Philpott on the legal fight over federal health care reform and Stiles on the travel expenses of House members: The best of our best from Dec.
Most often however, that child is brought to family court by way of a juvenile delinquency petition.
The federal government collects crime rate statistics for certain crimes, primarily property and violent felonies. Juvenile offenders can be adjudicated to local probation to be supervised in the community or housed in local juvenile facilities, or they can be sent to state facilities in some cases. Specifically, property crimes and drug offenses accounted for just over half of all felony arrests in 2011.
The factors that affect whether a juvenile can or must be tried in adult court are (1) age of the juvenile at the time of the offense and (2) the seriousness of the crime. Misdemeanants and lower-level felons can be sentenced to county jail, probation, fines, or some combination of these.
Interestingly, despite the realignment of juvenile offenders to counties, the actual number of juveniles in county facilities has declined significantly over the past decade.
For example, the majority of arrests for both groups are for misdemeanor offenses rather than felonies, and felony arrest rates for both adults and juveniles have declined in recent years.
Serious felonies include all violent felonies, as well as other crimes such as burglary of a residence and assault with intent to commit robbery. The measure provided the accused with the right to due process of law and a speedy public trial and required felony trials to be set within 60 days of a defendant’s arraignment. Individuals who have one previous serious or violent felony conviction and are convicted of any new felony (it need not be serious or violent) generally receive a prison sentence that is twice the term otherwise required for the new conviction. Specifically, we recommend developing a funding approach that promotes innovation and efficiency, establishing a transition plan for DJJ, providing state oversight and technical assistance through the newly created Board of State and Community Corrections (BSCC), taking measures to reduce the number of juveniles tried in adult court, and requiring counties to house minors tried in adult court until age 18. As part of that measure, the Legislature also established the Juvenile Reentry Grant, which provides counties with ongoing funding for managing these parolees. This amount does not include about $24 million in Proposition 98 funds and $15 million for juvenile parole costs. Moreover, counties would have a significant fiscal interest in promoting positive outcomes for all offenders and in taking steps to prevent low–level juveniles from becoming serious offenders. Because county probation departments would be responsible for a juvenile offender at every stage of the process, they would be in a better position to help wards transition back into the community and secure local services designed to reduce the likelihood of recidivism. Evaluating the success of these realignment efforts is difficult given the lack of statewide outcome data for juvenile offenders (such as data on the recidivism of different juvenile offender groups across counties). According to data collected by the Corrections Standards Authority (CSA), counties currently maintain a total facility capacity of about 12,900 beds—8,100 beds in juvenile halls and 4,800 beds in juvenile camps. We note that up until several years ago, some juvenile offenders were housed at the California Correctional Institution (Tehachapi). So, if DJJ is taken away as a commitment option under realignment, prosecutors and juvenile court judges may refer more cases to adult court in order to ensure longer commitments.

Consequently, this additional flexibility could allow counties to adapt more easily to their new responsibilities under the Governor's proposed juvenile justice realignment. If the Legislature determines that such a need exists, it could consider prioritizing any funds that have been previously authorized for juvenile facilities. In the short term, BSCC should administer the remaining juvenile facility construction funds originally approved under SB 81 with an eye toward making appropriate modifications to local facilities to accommodate realigned offenders.
This would allow juvenile court judges to provide longer commitment times for more serious offenses, potentially mitigating an increased need for adult court. The proposal would serve the state's fiscal and policy interests, particularly given the high cost of maintaining DJJ, the greater potential for efficient and effective rehabilitation at the local level, and the advantages of aligning the costs of juvenile justice with the policies that precipitate them. The procedure and terminology in juvenile delinquency cases differ considerably from those found in criminal court. Solomon has gotten several people's juvenile felony convictions expunged, restoring their gun rights. Of offenders arrested for felony offenses, most are adults, and most are arrested for nonviolent crimes.
Most offenders, including felony offenders, are supervised by local corrections agencies, while a smaller number of the most serious and violent offenders are supervised by the state. Other nonviolent crimes (such as illegal possession of a firearm) accounted for 21 percent of felony arrests. The different court process for juveniles is to focus primarily on rehabilitation rather than punishment. During this same time period, both adult and juvenile corrections caseloads in California have generally declined. Chapter 5 describes the juvenile justice system, including arrest trends, disposition of court cases, and incarceration. These individuals are referred to as “second strikers.” Individuals who have two previous serious or violent felony convictions and are convicted of any new felony are generally sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 25 years (“third strikers”). The measure excluded certain offenders from these provisions, including those who refuse drug treatment or are also convicted at the same time for a felony or misdemeanor crime unrelated to drug use. Although the state collected DNA samples from certain felons prior to passage of this measure, this measure greatly expanded the number of individuals from whom the state was required to collect DNA. Most such referrals are adjudicated in juvenile court, but depending on the nature of the alleged offense and the age of the accused, some cases may be prosecuted in adult criminal court. The figure also shows that the number of juveniles housed in county facilities has declined somewhat over the same time period.
Under current law, in contrast, the responsibility for preventing juveniles from developing into serious offenders is blurred. It is notable, however, that several chief probation officers we spoke with in the preparation of this report identified few significant problems in the implementation of past juvenile justice realignments. Finally, the Legislature will need to address where juveniles sentenced to state prison will be housed before turning age 18. According to CDCR officials, this arrangement resulted in significant costs and logistical difficulties, particularly associated with separating the relatively small number of juvenile offenders from the adult inmates at the prison. This change in practice would have the unintended consequence of increasing the number of juvenile offenders sentenced to state prison, resulting in increased state costs of potentially millions of dollars annually. In order to help determine an appropriate amount of funding, we recommend the Legislature adopt budget bill language requiring BSCC to make an assessment of the amount of funding necessary to run an effective and efficient program in juvenile facilities.
The combination of these two factors have the advantage of being responsive to changes in local populations over time, as well as giving some weight to local variations in juvenile criminal activity. However, to ensure this option is used only when necessary and does not reduce state savings, counties should be required to pay the state's cost of housing a juvenile offender in a DJJ facility. Whatever decision the Legislature makes with regard to where juveniles tried in adult courts are housed, the total funding amount provided to counties should reflect whether the responsibility for housing these offenders lies with the state or counties. Second, we recommend that the Legislature establish an incentive program to reward counties who successfully prevent an increase in the number of juveniles sent to state prison. However, to ensure that counties are properly equipped to manage the more serious juvenile offenders, the Legislature should provide sufficient funding, fiscal incentives, oversight, and assistance while taking steps to avoid unintended consequences. Such cases require the services of an attorney who is experienced in handling juvenile cases. The sentence an offender convicted of a felony receives depends on the current crime, the offender’s criminal history, and the discretion of the court. We also discuss the rehabilitation mission of the juvenile justice system at both the local and state levels. In addition, the law also restricted the opportunity to earn credits that reduce time in prison and eliminated alternatives to prison incarceration for those who have committed serious or violent felonies.
Among other changes, they increased penalties for certain sex offenses, required global positioning system monitoring of felony sex offenders for life, restricted where sex offenders can live, and expanded the definition of who qualifies as a sexually violent predator who can be committed to a state mental hospital by the courts for mental health treatment.
The courts place almost all juvenile offenders under the supervision of county probation departments. Chapter 175 also provided counties with $100 million in lease–revenue funding to construct or renovate juvenile facilities, an amount that was later increased to $300 million. Counties now house a much higher share of the total number of juveniles in state and local facilities, increasing from 53 percent in 1995 to 88 percent in 2011.
Specifically, counties run juvenile crime prevention programs, but the state pays most of the cost to house and rehabilitate youths who become serious offenders. We also note that these past measures have taken place during a period when juvenile felony arrest rates in California have declined significantly. The CSA also reported that counties housed an average of about 8,400 juveniles on any given day in 2011, resulting in an estimated 4,500 unused juvenile facility beds at the county level.
However, we note that most counties already manage many juvenile (and adult) offenders with these types of specialized needs. We would note, however, that counties are currently responsible for housing juveniles who are sentenced in adult court to county jail. Based on the number of recent DJJ admissions from juvenile court who would not receive a parole consideration hearing until after they reached age 21, we estimate that between about 40 and 90 wards admitted to DJJ in 2010–11 might otherwise have been prosecuted in adult court and sentenced to state prison in the absence of DJJ. As a result of statutory changes adopted in 2011, adult felons can generally only be sentenced to state prison if they have a current or prior conviction for a felony that is a violent, serious, or sex offense.
Of adult felony cases brought by the district attorney, 80 percent result in a guilty verdict, and most of these offenders are sentenced to a combination of jail and probation. A smaller number of juvenile offenders, however, are sent to state institutions, either a juvenile facility operated by DJJ within the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) or state prison.
Over the past couple of years, however, the state has managed to somewhat reduce average DJJ costs, partly through the closure of several state juvenile facilities. As previously mentioned, under SB 81 juvenile realignment, the state provided counties with $117,000 per realigned ward. Interestingly, the number of juveniles tried in adult court has declined in recent years despite the realignment of lower–level juvenile offenders to counties in 2007. The net savings to the state achieved by juvenile justice realignment would depend on the total amount of funding provided to counties as determined by the Legislature. However, as previously discussed, these same cost pressures could result in some counties sentencing more juvenile offenders in adult court.
Mangi, senior partner in the firm, has had nearly 30 years of experience in handling juvenile delinquency matters. Roughly three-quarters of all felony arrests were for nonviolent crimes, and nine out of every ten felony arrests in California were of an adult offender. It is impossible to determine what, if any, effect prior juvenile justice realignments may have had on juvenile felony arrest rates.
The study done by BSCC could be updated at the Legislature's request to account for future changes in costs and juvenile populations supervised by counties. Almost two-thirds of all felony arrests were made by city police departments in California.
Additionally, to provide counties additional fiscal flexibility while reducing their administrative burden, the Legislature could consolidate five existing juvenile justice grant programs as we have previously recommended.
Building on the success of that model, our proposal would award counties a share of the state's savings for each juvenile offender it successfully diverts from state prison.

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