California Welfare & Institutions Code 602 WIC - Jurisdiction of Juvenile Court

Updated

Welfare and Institutions Code 602 WIC is the California statute that defines the Juvenile Court's jurisdiction. It hears delinquency cases involving children ages 12 to 17. Juvie Court also has jurisdiction over some children under 12. But only those accused of murder (PC 187) or certain sex crimes.

602 WIC provides that:

a) Except as provided in Section 707, any minor who is between 12 years of age and 17 years of age, inclusive, when he or she violates any law of this state or of the United States or any ordinance of any city or county of this state defining crime other than an ordinance establishing a curfew based solely on age, is within the jurisdiction of the juvenile court, which may adjudge the minor to be a ward of the court.

(b) Any minor who is under 12 years of age when he or she is alleged to have committed any of the following offenses is within the jurisdiction of the juvenile court, which may adjudge the minor to be a ward of the court:

(1) Murder.

(2) Rape by force, violence, duress, menace, or fear of immediate and unlawful bodily injury.

(3) Sodomy by force, violence, duress, menace, or fear of immediate and unlawful bodily injury.

(4) Oral copulation by force, violence, duress, menace, or fear of immediate and unlawful bodily injury.

(5) Sexual penetration by force, violence, duress, menace, or fear of immediate and unlawful bodily injury.

Legal Analysis of 602 WIC

Juvie Court hears delinquency cases for children ages 12 to 17. Juvie may also make these children wards. This means that Juvie can take primary responsibility for their treatment. (In the most serious cases, minors get transferred to adult criminal court.)

But most children under 12 fall outside of Juvie's jurisdiction. There are only two exceptions for minors 11 and younger:

  1. The child was accused of murder; or
  2. The child was accused of committing one of the following crimes by force, violence, duress, menace, or fear of immediate and unlawful bodily injury:
  • Rape,
  • Sodomy,
  • Oral copulation, and/or
  • Sexual penetration

Therefore, most minors under 12 are not eligible to become wards of Juvie. Counties instead rely on community-based services to rehabilitate the youngest lawbreakers.

Juvie Court can be traumatic. It carries a stigma. And the sooner a child enters Juvie, re-offending is more likely. WIC 602 ensures the earliest child offenders receive more constructive treatment methods. The goal is to keep them from ever entering Juvie.

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