Whether your child is charged with simple assault as a result of a school yard fight, property damage, possession of a drug or alcohol, larceny, or another charge, your actions to make the best of a bad situation are extremely important. These charges could have a substantial impact on jobs, college applications, and other areas for years to come. North Carolina is a state that does treat 16 and 17 year olds as adults in criminal matters, although there is a new bill to raise the minimum age of criminal charges to 18 years old. Governor Cooper has already given support for the bill, and although there has been debate on the budget, the legislators have also stated that a veto is possible, making the bill likely to pass.
Until this bill passes, 16 year old kids are treated as adults, but there are a number of diversion and deferral programs available. The charge may be dismissed as a result of successfully completing one of these programs.
One of these programs offered by Wake County is the Teen Court Program, allowing kids and teens 9-17 years old to participate to earn a dismissal. The Teen Court program requires the defendant to stand before a jury of their peers and accept sanctions that they impose like community service, writing an apology letter, and paying restitution. Volunteer teens act as the attorneys, and the only adult involved in the hearing is the judge. Successfully participating and completing all of the sanctions imposed results in a dismissal of the charges, which is a less severe alternative than going to court. Teen Court, and the new proposed bill, represent a shift in North Carolina to change how juveniles are treated in criminal cases, and show an effort to give minors an alternative than criminal charges and jail time.
Once your case is over, you should consider getting the charge expunged. There are special rules for offenders who were under 21 years old at the time they were charged with a crime. So, regardless of the outcome of your case, contact The Law Offices of Wiley Nickel, PLLC to learn how we can help you restore your child's record by getting an expunction.