Raise the Age

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Raise the Age

North Carolina is the only remaining state to automatically try 16- and 17-year-olds charged with any crime as adults, send them to adult jails and prisons, and brand them with lifelong criminal records. Thankfully, however, a new law will take effect in December of 2019, which will “raise the age” and require kids under 18 to be charged and tried in juvenile court.

How will this law work? Does it include all crimes?

Beginning in December 2019, 16- and 17-year-olds charged with any crime (except motor vehicle offenses) will start out in juvenile court. 16- and 17-year-olds charged with Class A through G felonies, however, will be automatically transferred from juvenile court to adult court, meaning they will still ultimately be charged and tried as adults. 16- and 17-year-olds charged with misdemeanors and H and I felonies will stay in juvenile court and be tried as juveniles.

Which felonies are A-G felonies?

Class A through G felonies are the most serious felonies, with A being the worst felony (first-degree murder). Some commons felonies that fall into this A through G category include serious sex offenses, kidnapping, burglary, serious assaults, and common law robbery.

Some common H and I felonies, which will stay in juvenile court, include felony breaking or entering, felony larceny, and possession of cocaine. H and I felonies are generally considered to be low-level and nonviolent.

What about traffic offenses?

The “Raise the Age” law excludes all motor vehicle offenses. Thus, those juveniles charged with traffic offenses, such as speeding, and more serious motor vehicle offenses, such as driving while impaired, will still be charged and tried in adult court.

How long can 16- and 17-year-olds stay in the juvenile system?

Juveniles entering the system when they are 16 can stay in the juvenile system until they are 19. Juveniles entering the system when they are 17 can stay in the juvenile system until they are 20.

What if, after the new law takes place, a 17-year-old who has previously been charged and convicted in adult court is charged with a new crime?

7B-1604(b) states that any juvenile with a conviction in adult court (including convictions for motor vehicle offenses), will be prosecuted in adult court for all future charges.[1]  

What is the difference between juvenile court and adult court?

Juvenile court focuses much more on rehabilitation than adult court does. Juvenile Court Counselors meet with the juvenile and his or her family at the beginning of the case, provide resources, and monitor juveniles until the end of the case. Juvenile court records are also confidential and are not part of public record, like adult court records.

Still have questions?

Feel free to give me a call at 704-879-3147 or email me at taylor.goodnight@fialko-law.com. Our firm handles cases in both juvenile court and adult court, so we are equipped to answer your questions and to handle this change in the law.

We like representing kids in juvenile court because we believe kids should have a voice. We also believe that kids, more than anyone, can change with the right resources and support and should not face lifelong consequences for poor choices made at such a young age.

Footnotes

[1] Note that this language conflicts with 7B-2507, which assigns juvenile criminal history points to various adult convictions. If minors with adult convictions do not go back to juvenile court, criminal history points for adult convictions should never be relevant in juvenile court.