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Fees for juvenile crimes won't lead to jail in California

Minors who rack up court costs for their transgressions will no longer be sent to jail for the unpaid fines, according to a new law in the state. In the past, California teens convicted of juvenile crimes faced penalties that included court costs and other fines. When the fines were left unpaid, some children faced going to jail for failing to make the payments. Luckily, a new 2018 law will prevent this outcome. 

Proponents of the new new law note that the fines can trap a juvenile in a cycle of debt before he or she even has a chance to build a financial foundation. Many individuals charged with juvenile crimes do not have the means to pay for fees, and their families don't either. Administrative fees for the offenders can include detention costs, court fees, probation fees, drug testing and electronic monitoring. Governments attempt to get these fees, which can be thousands of dollars, from offenders by extending probation terms.

An extended probation term is not likely to help a youthful offender to get on track to becoming a functioning member of society. The various financial ramifications can extend and increase the barriers for a child. Luckily, the state has decided to do away with the fee system altogether to help troubled children have a better chance at success. 

Juvenile crimes will still carry consequences in California, but now, administrative costs will not be part of the punishment. An individual facing charges for youth crimes may still require a strong criminal defense to avoid being saddled with unfair financial barriers. Many people choose to hire an experienced defense attorney to help have the charges reduced or dismissed altogether. 

Source: Newsweek, "California Won't Jail Children for Being Poor. Will Other States Follow?", Nila Bala, Dec. 31, 2017

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