North Carolina is the last state to adopt a “raise the age” law. Under the new law, teenagers under the age of 18 will no longer be automatically tried as adults in court. Session Law 2019-186 was enacted on August 1, 2019, and will go into effect on December 1, 2019.
Changes Under the Raise the Age Law
A delinquent juvenile still includes 16- and 17-year-olds who commit crimes and infractions. However, under the new law, Chapter 20 motor vehicle offenses will be excluded from juvenile jurisdiction.
Some juveniles will be excluded from juvenile jurisdiction, including those who have previously been transferred to and convicted in superior court. However, juveniles who have been convicted for motor vehicle violations punishable as a misdemeanor or infraction will be excepted from the exclusion. Felony motor vehicle violations and misdemeanor DWI convictions will be excluded from juvenile jurisdiction.
Individuals under the age of 18 who are charged with Class H or I felonies will require a transfer hearing before they are transferred to adult court. Juveniles charged with Class A-G felonies will be transferred to adult court upon notice of an indictment or finding of probable cause. In these cases, a probable cause hearing must be conducted within 90 days of the juvenile's first appearance. All other complaints will begin in juvenile court.
When charges are remanded to district court for juvenile adjudication, the court shall expunge the remanded charges. The court will also order expunction of DNA records related to the remanded charges.
Second Chance for Young People
Advocates for the new law believe the change will keep communities safer and allow young people to have a second chance at avoiding a life as a career criminal. According to research, teens who are arrested are less likely to reoffend if they are prosecuted as minors. Additionally, young people who are incarcerated in adult prisons are at a greater risk of being sexually assaulted in prison than adult offenders.
A criminal record can be very harmful to a young person's future. A felony conviction can prevent a young person from accessing financial aid for college, limit their job options, and even restrict their housing options. By treating kids in the juvenile system instead of the adult justice system, young people may be more likely to recover and lead a successful life.
Young People Arrested in North Carolina
The new Raise the Age law may give more flexibility for young people arrested on criminal charges in North Carolina to avoid a permanent criminal record. If your child was arrested for a misdemeanor or felony, talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney. At Caulder & Valentine Law Firm, PLLC, we have helped young people and their families deal with criminal charges to stay out of jail and avoid a criminal record. Contact us today in Shelby for a consultation.