Keeping Juvenile Cases in the Juvenile Court System
In North Carolina, any adolescent who is 15 years or younger and is accused of committing a crime will go through the juvenile justice system. Juveniles can face accusations of committing crimes that would be offenses for adults. For example, theft offenses, assault and battery, and sex crimes are illegal no matter a person’s age. However, teenagers may also enter the juvenile system for conduct that is illegal because of their age. For instance, it is illegal for adolescents under the age of 21 years to possess or drink alcohol, or for teenagers to be truant from school.
If your child has gotten into trouble with the law, the last thing you want is for their case to be moved out of the juvenile system and into the adult courts. While in the juvenile system, the court focuses on rehabilitation and the use of community services. In the adult system, the focus is on punishment. Your child could face a serious term of incarceration if their case moves to adult court.
When Juvenile Cases Can Be Transferred to the Adult Court
Under current North Carolina law, adolescents who are at least 13-years-old and are accused of committing a serious felony could be transferred to the adult court system.
If a court finds that there is probable cause your child committed a class A felony, North Carolina law requires the court to transfer the case to an adult court. For any other level of felony, the court has discretion in whether to transfer the case.
As a parent, you want to make sure this does not happen. The best way to keep your child’s case in the juvenile court system is to hire a Charlotte juvenile defense lawyer. Remember, your child always has the right to an attorney.
Fighting Against a Juvenile Case Transfer
Once you know your child has been entered into the juvenile system, whether they are detained or released into your custody, you need to call a defense attorney who is highly experienced in Charlotte’s juvenile system. This is particularly important if your child is accused of a serious felony offense.
To begin, a defense attorney will seek to negotiate with the prosecutor to charge your teen with a class B or lower felony, whenever possible. If your child is not charged with a class A felony, then you do not have to fear mandatory transfer.
However, even with a lower felony charge, your child’s attorney may need to fight hard against a transfer by seeking to convince the judge that it is most appropriate for your child’s case to remain in the juvenile system.
During a transfer hearing, the judge may review:
- Your child’s age
- Your child’s level of maturity
- Your child’s intellectual capabilities
- Your child’s previous juvenile record, if there is one
- Any previous attempts to rehabilitate your child
- Any facilities or programs available to the juvenile court, which your child may benefit from
- Whether the alleged crime was committed in a violent, aggressive, premeditated, or willful way
- The seriousness of the alleged crime and whether public safety would be better serviced by the juvenile being prosecuted as an adult
Your child’s Charlotte juvenile defense lawyer will utilize these factors to show a transfer to an adult would be inappropriate and not within the best interests of justice or public safety.
North Carolina Raised the Age for Juvenile Offenders Starting December 2019
Prior to 2017, 16 and 17-year-olds were legally considered adults in North Carolina’s court system. A 16-year-old boy or girl who was arrested for a crime would be booked into an adult jail and face adult criminal charges.
In June 2017, North Carolina’s General Assembly changed the law. Through the Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act, the age for criminal responsibility in adult court was raised to 18 years. Beginning on December 1, 2019, juvenile courts will have jurisdiction over delinquency cases of 16 and 17-year-olds who commit misdemeanors and non-violent felonies. If someone of this age commits a violent felony or motor vehicle offense, however, then their case will remain in adult court.
Call a Charlotte Juvenile Defense Lawyer Today
If your teenager was arrested and entered into the juvenile justice system, call Randall & Stump, PLLC as soon as possible. We understand that teens make mistakes – even serious ones. We do not believe a lack of experience and judgement should ruin their futures, which is why we will dedicate ourselves to your child’s case and do everything in our power to obtain the best possible outcome.