What are the expected benefits of the raise the age law?
Is the new law retroactive?
No- the new raise the age law only applies to offenses that occur after the effective date of December 1, 2019. That being said, the new expungement law may help those with convictions regardless of their age. Wait periods have been reduced for both misdemeanor and felony convictions.
North Carolina age of criminal responsibility
Under the new law effective December 1, 2019 the answer will depend on the charge. For most minor crimes that are not motor vehicle offenses the age of being treated as an adult will be age 18. For serious criminal offenses and motor vehicle offenses the age of being treated as an adult will remain at age 16. For the most serious offenses such as murder children as young as 13 in NC can tried and convicted as an adult.
Are 16 year olds treated as adults in NC traffic court?
Yes- there is no change to the law as to those charged with motor vehicle related offenses. The reason why is likely due to the expense in adjudicating every traffic ticket in juvenile court not to mention the insurance companies wanting to raise rates for those convicted of speeding and other motor vehicle violations regardless of age and actually especially inexperienced drivers.
Is a 16 year charged with a felony in NC considered an adult?
Effective December 1, 2019 not all felonies will result in automatic prosecution as an adult for 16 and 17 year old offenders. For more serious Class A through Class G felonies transfer to adult court will take place automatically upon indictment by a grand jury or a finding of probable cause after notice and a hearing. For lower level Class H and I felony offenses a transfer hearing will be required and ultimately up to the judge.
Does my 16 year old need a lawyer if charged in NC?
Even after December 1, 2019 it would be advisable for anyone charged with a crime to have a lawyer. There are certainly attorneys that specialize in juvenile law as the defense of their rights. The difference between a court appointed lawyer and a retained lawyer is goes beyond the mere cost.
Possible drawbacks of the new law
It would not be a balanced article to not explore some of the drawbacks of the new law. For one, the law as written needs some tweaking as even a simple speeding ticket conviction for a minor could mean any further crimes disqualify them from juvenile status. Another possible unintended consequence is the increased paperwork and burden on prosecutors along, law enforcement, and victims in deciding whether to even pursue charging juveniles with minor crimes. This could result in some minors thinking they are immune from prosecution and therefore encourage repeat offenses. That being said, the law as a whole puts North Carolina in line with the rest of the country and uniformity is usually a good thing when it comes to the law.