In this case the California Supreme Court considered whether a juvenile adjudication counts as a “strike” under California’s Three Strikes law. Juvenile Law Center filed an amicus brief with Pacific Juvenile Defender Center and others, arguing that the use of delinquency adjudications to enhance an adult criminal sentence violates United States Supreme Court precedent requiring that any fact used to enhance a criminal sentence must be found by a jury as well as California’s longstanding commitment to maintaining a separate juvenile justice system. Juvenile Law Center’s brief discussed the distinctive status of the juvenile court and how the use of juvenile adjudications as strike “convictions” is both inconsistent with the purpose of juvenile court and disregards California’s carefully drawn boundaries between juvenile court and adult court jurisdiction. Juvenile Law Center’s brief also referenced research confirming the developmental differences between children and adults and how juvenile adjudications lack the reliability of adult convictions.
The court held that use of juvenile adjudications to increase sentencing under California’s “Three Strikes” law did not violate the defendant’s right to jury trial.