If you've been arrested in Alameda County and are between the ages of 18-25, you may be eligible for a different review of potential consequences. Contact East Bay criminal defense lawyer Lynn Gorelick today.
Arrested and Between the Ages of 18-25?
The office of the district attorney (DA) in Alameda County may now be reviewing cases for a special unit for defendants between 18 and 25 years old. The new program would take into account circumstances that occurred before they were arrested, to determine the appropriate handling of these cases.
Treatment Options for Young Offenders
Young offenders are at a pivotal time in their lives where a conviction for a felony or misdemeanor can forever change their life, leaving them with few opportunities after they are released. People aged 18-25 historically represent the largest group of new commitments to California state prison. Many young offenders who are released after serving prison time will re-offend.
Many young offenders are still undergoing cognitive brain development and can be better served by age-appropriate services instead of traditional incarceration. The Alameda County pilot program is new but it may be related to other Transitional Age Youth (TAY) pilot programs in California.
Some young offenders in Alameda County have already participated in Mentor Diversion, to provide support and guidance. Certified Peer Support Specialists become mentors for young people who are charged with felony drug sales and have no significant criminal history.
Deferred Entry of Judgment for Young Adults in California
In 2016, California passed SB 1004, the Young Adults Deferred Entry of Judgment Pilot Program. The program authorized counties participating in the pilot program (including Alameda County) to allow young adults ages 18 to 21 to serve their non-violent felony offenses in juvenile hall instead of jail. Juvenile facilities have more treatment tools than prisons, including:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Mental health treatment
- Vocational training
- Other programming addressing the needs of an emerging adolescent brain
Emerging Adults and the Criminal System
According to research from Loyola University Chicago, emerging adults deserve special treatment because the human brain continues to develop until about age 25, with different parts of the brain developing in stages.
"While general cognitive ability matures by the midteens, areas of the brain that control judgment, reasoning, and impulse control are continuing to develop. And physical maturity is independent of developmental capacity. This unique developmental phase is characterized by distinct features – such as identity exploration, impulsivity, sensitivity to peer influence, risk-taking, and instability – and may give rise to particular risks for criminal justice system involvement."
Many psychological disorders and behavioral problems, including substance abuse, manifest during these years. As a result, young adults are overrepresented in criminal arrests and incarceration. However, emerging adults are also more amenable to development and change.
Young Adult Court
San Francisco has a young adult court program that specifically serves 18 to 25-year-olds charged with misdemeanors or felonies. The court provides intensive case management with services including trauma-informed services, gender-specific strategies, behavioral health services, housing or vocational support, and civil legal assistance.
San Francisco's Transitional Age Youth (TAY) probation unit uses an assessment to address education, housing problems, records relief, employment readiness, and job opportunities. Alameda County has plans for a probation-led pilot TAY program for young people charged with their first felony. This is part of the 3-D (Deflect, Defer, Divert) collaborative program to provide an alternative to incarceration.
Criminal Defense Attorney for Young Offenders in Oakland and the East Bay
If you are a young adult who was arrested for a felony in Oakland or the East Bay, call an experienced criminal defense attorney for legal help. East Bay attorney Lynn Gorelick has more than 39 years of California criminal defense experience and understands the consequences of a criminal record for young people. Contact East Bay criminal defense lawyer Lynn Gorelick today.