by Arash Hashemi
On November 21, 2016, the horrific stabbing of Jasmine Preciado shook the city of Los Angeles, in particular, the Venice community. Jasmine was 22-years-old and nearly four months pregnant with her second child. Paramedics treated her at the scene before taking her to the hospital. Unfortunately, both Jasmine and her unborn child failed to survive.
On December 2, 2016, a 17-year-old female walked into the LAPD’s Olympic Division and turned herself in. The unnamed suspected was charged with two counts of murder and appeared in juvenile court where she denied the charges. She was ordered to return to court on January 10, 2017, for a “Fitness Hearing.”
But what does all this mean?
Prior to November 8th and the passage of Prop 57, prosecutors would decide whether or not to charge a juvenile as an adult. Prosecutors could “direct file” cases at their discretion, meaning they could decide whether defendants, as young as 14, should be tried in Superior Court as an adult. Prop. 57 changed all that. Now, instead of “direct file,” Prop 57 requires that young defendants have a fitness hearing in juvenile court, where a judge with access to information about the offense, the child, and their background decides if the juvenile should be tried as an adult.
The difference being, Prop 57 gave power to the Judge and not the Prosecutor to decide if a juvenile should be charged as an adult.
I bet now you are asking yourself what is the difference between facing criminal charges in one system versus the other. The juvenile system focuses on rehabilitation with sentencing options ranging from serving time under supervision at home, to incarceration at a juvenile hall. In the adult system, there’s only prison. For a young person, this could determine how the remainder of their life will be spent and who they will become as an adult. On January 10, 2017, the 17-year-old who is accused of murdering Jasmine Preciado will know her fate, as far as which system under which she will be prosecuted.
The American justice system is continuously criticized for having flaws. However, even with the flaws that exist our justice system is one of the best, if not the best system in the world. One of the main reasons for this argument is the concept of “innocent until proven guilty.” Meaning, if one is accused of a crime, they are innocent until the Prosecution proves their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This remains true in the murder of Jasmine Preciado and only time will determine the fate of the accused juvenile.
Arash Hashemi is a practicing criminal defense attorney at the Law Offices of Arash Hashemi in Los Angeles. Find him online at www.HashemiLaw.com