August 15, 2017
Prior to recent legislation, North Carolina was the only state, regardless of the severity of the crime, to charge 16 and 17-year-old juveniles as adults in the criminal justice system. This meant that, no matter what you did, if you were 16 and charged with a crime, you were treated as if you were an adult and would have a criminal record, if convicted. You would also face jail time, for something as simple as getting in a fight at school. While getting in a fight at school or stealing someone’s lunch money is very serious, it does not warrant sticking a 16 year old with a criminal record for the rest of their life.
Thanks to legislators, the “Raise the Age” bill was recently passed in North Carolina. North Carolina will now raise the age of juvenile jurisdiction to 18, meaning 16 and 17 year olds will no longer be charged as adults and incur a criminal record that could negatively affect them for the rest of their lives. This change is to take effect in December of 2019. Now, since 16 and 17 year olds will be treated as juveniles in the court system. If they make a mistake during these years, it will not have such a negative and long-lasting affect on them because, once you become an adult, a juvenile record is sealed and not public record. Also, if convicted in juvenile court, there are more opportunities for juveniles to have access to different programs, counseling, and treatment, which betters the chances of them succeeding in life and not continually falling back in to the court system.
This will be an overall positive change in North Carolina and it was about time that our state stepped up to the plate and enacted this. If you are a juvenile or know a juvenile that is facing current criminal charges, please give our office a call and we will be glad to assist you.