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Teens get short sentence in juvenile court in sex crimes case

Three California boys have admitted to a sexual assault that led the victim to commit suicide. Two members of the trio have already served 30 weekend days in custody for their juvenile crimes. One boy must spend 45 consecutive days in custody. Authorities say the alleged 15-year-old victim hanged herself after the assault. All three of the boys are high-school juniors.

Legal officials have been tight-lipped about the boys' fate. That is because the defendants were prosecuted through the juvenile court system. The juvenile court system is not open to the public. News reports say that the relatively short sentences are far less severe than the sentences handed down for adults who commit the same crimes. Those sexual assault crimes could have led to 10-year prison terms if the boys had been tried as adults. It appears that the state of California was more lenient. A legal expert said that Santa Clara County generally issues shorter sentences because rehabilitation is favored over punishment.

The boys are accused of digitally penetrating the young woman in September 2012 at a party. She awoke to find markings on her body that included lewd comments drawn with a marker. Two of the boys were also found with nude photos of girls on their phones before they were arrested for the sexual assault charge. They admitted to additional felony counts of possessing sexual photos of those under-18 girls. Attorneys for the victim say the boys have not learned their lesson, because they are still distributing nude photos of other girls.

Legal professionals in Santa Clara County are calling for more transparent legal proceedings in the juvenile law system. Some cases, including sex crimes, deserve to be made public. Names would still be kept secret in such cases.

Juvenile defendants deserve privacy in their legal proceedings. The alleged indiscretions of their youth should not unfairly damage their future. These boys received relatively light sentences because they went through the juvenile law system. California criminal defense attorneys can help young defendants learn more about their rights.

Source: San Jose Mercury News, "Audrie Pott: Boys admit sexually assaulting Saratoga teen who committed suicide" Julia Prodis Sulek, Jan. 14, 2014

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Former Criminal Prosecutor With Proven Results