A provision in Proposition 57 could lead to thousands of California court cases in which teenage minors are set to be tried as adults to be reviewed and sent back down to juvenile court.
“I'm enjoying having my freedom back,” said Jackie Pickett, a victim at the center of one of the cases that could soon see a drastic change.
It’s been quite a journey for Pickett.
In January she was attacked with a baseball bat while walking her dog at a park near her Lodi home. She suffered a traumatic brain injury, and doctors weren't sure if she'd survive.
Now, 11 months later, she's almost fully recovered. Her struggle now shifts to the courtroom.
"This was clear intent to murder someone. And my daughter narrowly survived,” said Amber Smith Gomes, Pickett's mother.
Dulce Rios was 17 years old when she was arrested, accused of the brutal beating of Pickett.
In January, the San Joaquin County District Attorney announced Rios, who is now 18, would be tried as an adult. But on Monday, Rios' attorney filed a motion to reverse that decision and requested Rios be tried as a minor under the language in Prop 57.
"To be given that assurance, to think justice is going to be carried out. She's going to be tried as an adult. And this is our mindset for a year of getting ready to heal. To have that revoked is completely unfair,” said Smith Gomes.
Proposition 57 was sold as a measure that would allow non-violent felons with good behavior early release from prison. But language in the proposition takes away the prosecutors' power to charge a minor like Rios as an adult. Now that decision is in the hands of a judge.
"That would involve thousands of cases in San Joaquin County alone and in cases across the state,” said Tim Daly, DA spokesman.
Daly says what isn't clear in the language of the proposition is whether a judge can go back and change existing cases like Rios' retroactively. Nonetheless, dozens of judges in California are already hearing motions on it.
"It was like a punch to the gut when we were told in court that this might become retroactive,” said Pickett’s mother.
Pickett says she's had to find the strength to focus both on rehab and the court battle.
"I felt all throughout the year pieces of myself that I was never even aware of,” Pickett said.
A potential early release for her attacker, if tried as a minor is just one more psychological hurdle for Pickett to go through.
Rios will be back in court on Dec. 22, at which point a judge will decide whether she’s tried as a minor or an adult.