Arturo Santiago explains the legal decisions that go into charging juveniles as adults.
An attorney for the parents of a girl who was sexually assaulted and later hanged herself says she awoke from her battery with drawings and the name of one suspect scrawled on intimate parts of her body.
Attorney Robert Allard and the family of 15-year-old Audrie Pott also announced plans on Monday to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the three, 16-year-old suspects as well as their parents and the family of a girl who hosted the Labor Day party where their daughter was attacked.
Allard says that the photos show enough of the girl's clothing had been removed to put markings on her body. He says she passed out after drinking alcohol mixed with Gatorade.
The girl's parents want the teen suspects charged as adults.
Emotionally, this is a difficult story for all of those involved. Legally it is complex as well.
The decision whether to charge the suspects as adults is in the hands of the Santa Clara County district attorney.
Legal experts said most of the time the DA relies on a statute called 707B when making the decision.
The state of California outlines 30 serious and or violent crimes in the 707B statute that allows prosecutors to automatically charge juveniles as adults. When one of those crimes is committed, the DA's office can either make a direct filing in adult court or it can call for a fitness hearing to see if the minor should be tried as a juvenile or as an adult.
But what happens if a minor commits a crime that is serious but not on the current 707B list?
Deputy District Attorney Jaron Shipp explains.
"For example there are some crimes that are sexual assaults say when someone is sexually assaulted when they are unconscious or when they're intoxicated - something of that nature," Shipp said.
So even if a juvenile commits a crime that is not on the list of 707B crimes, that juvenile can still be charged as an adult.
"That crime isn't a 707B crime, it's a 707A crime but it's obviously very serious. We take it very seriously and if a person or a minor were to commit a string of those crimes or one of those crimes we could deem it that it's necessary that they be prosecuted as an adult," Shipp said.
The district attorney is prohibited by law from commenting on that case specifically, but in regard to charging juveniles as adults, the DA does take into consideration the victim, the seriousness and sophistication of the crime and if the juvenile would be a danger to the public in the future.
"It's our job to keep our heads, to analyze the law. Analyze the facts and make the appropriate decision to make sure that this person will be held accountable and that we get justice for victims," Gibb said.
Juvenile court cases are confidential meaning there will be no open court hearing. If they turn into a 707B case and go on to adult court, all that information immediately becomes part of the public record.