Senate Bill 439 (2018) Implementation Guide

Report cover includes title and photo of several young students lined up

In 2018, Governor Brown signed Senate Bill 439 (Senator Holly J. Mitchell) into law. SB 439 established a minimum age of juvenile court jurisdiction for status and delinquency offenses in California. Children 11 and under may no longer be arrested or prosecuted, with a few exceptions.

Under SB 439, counties must develop a process for determining the least restrictive responses that may be used instead of or in addition to the release of the child to their parent, guardian, or caregiver. This process must be in place by January 1, 2020.

The intent of SB 439 is to protect children 11 and under from the harms and adverse consequences of justice system involvement and to encourage more effective alternatives to prosecution.

To help prepare counties for this change, the National Center for Youth Law and W. Haywood Burns Institute, developed the SB 439 Implementation Guide.  The Guide provides an overview of the law, key steps that counties should take to develop their protocol, data on the number of children that may be impacted, and sample protocols from two counties.