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Audrie's Law seen by some as step backward for juvenile law

In September 2013, three boys from Saratoga High School admitted to "digitally penetrating" a fellow classmate by taking pictures of her nude body during a party then distributing those images to other people. It's because of this admission that the boys were convicted in Santa Clara County Juvenile Court and eventually served their sentences.

But as some of our San Diego County readers may remember, their sentences sparked controversy across the state. While some felt that the punishment was acceptable due to the fact that the boys were all under the age of 18, others in the community did not agree, including the victim's parents.

They, like some in the state, felt that the juvenile courts had gone easy on the teens and that their punishments did not fit the crime. This brought about the introduction of Audrie's Law, which "seeks a two-year minimum sentence for juveniles convicted of sex crimes against incapacitated or unconscious victims and increase penalties in cases where social media is used to share photos of the crime."

But there are some in the state, including Assemblyman Tom Ammiano of San Francisco and several youth-justice organizations, who feel that Audrie's Law is not yet ready to be passed by the Assembly. It has been argued that the sentencing requirements in Audrie's Law "emulates broken adult court sentencing laws" and, if passed, would force the juvenile criminal justice system to take a "huge step backward."

Because the bill passed the Assembly Public Safety Committee it has moved on to the Assembly Appropriations Committee. But with no decision yet from this committee, it's unknown if we will see changes to the law or not later on.

Sources: The San Francisco Chronicle, "Audie's Law goes too far, some legislators insist," Melody Gutierrez, June 22, 2014, "Justice For Audrie," Accessed July 21, 2014

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Former Criminal Prosecutor With Proven Results