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Raising the Age for Juveniles in North Carolina

The State of North Carolina has raised the age of juvenile jurisdiction in criminal cases to 18. North Carolina is the last state in the United States to “raise the age.” This means that there are several important issues that have changed when a juvenile is charged with a crime. “Raise the age” makes three distinct changes in juvenile law – and we at Greenwood Law want to make you aware of them:

  1. The age of juvenile jurisdiction has been raised from a person under 16, to a person under 18.
  2. All Misdemeanors and Class H and I Felonies, allegedly committed by a person under eighteen, are subject to juvenile jurisdiction.
  3. The new “once an adult, always an adult” provision has some exceptions.

The age of juvenile jurisdiction has been raised from a person under 16, to a person under 18.

 In 2017, the NC Legislature passed the Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act “raised the age” of juvenile jurisdiction from 16 to 18. Juveniles in North Carolina have a different process after they are charged with crimes versus adults. When a juvenile is charged with a crime, a juvenile petition is filed, which includes: the court holds a hearing for probable cause; an adjudication hearing is held; and finally, a disposition is entered by the court regarding the minor’s case.

This process is applied in both misdemeanor and felony cases. Juvenile disposition records are sealed from public view, which means that a juvenile who is an adjudicated delinquent at seventeen now has the possibility of their records not being obtained by educational institutions and employers.

At Greenwood law we will guide a juvenile, charged with a crime, through every stage on the case. From the initial probable cause hearing, secured custody hearings, adjudication or transfer, we are equipped to handle any situation in juvenile court from the beginning to the end of the case.

All Misdemeanors and Class H and I Felonies, allegedly committed by a person under 18, are subject to juvenile jurisdiction.

 Initially, according to the new statute, any crime allegedly committed by a juvenile will have to be subject to juvenile jurisdiction. Some crimes, specifically A-G felonies, are automatically transferred to Superior Court upon indictment after a juvenile petition in District Court. Class H and I felonies are subject to juvenile jurisdiction, but they can be transferred to Superior Court under NC General Statue 7B-2205.5. At Greenwood Law, we have experience with the juvenile adjudication process and with transfers from juvenile court to superior court. Transfers to Superior Court can be a highly, technical legal procedure and we have experience with these procedures, which will allow us to help any juvenile client through the entire process.

The “once an adult, always an adult” provision has some specific exceptions.

 Past convictions in adult court, can bar a 16- or 17-year-old from juvenile jurisdiction. A juvenile who has been convicted of a felony or impaired driving before the “raise the age” law went into effect on December 1st, 2019, will not have juvenile jurisdiction. This means that some people who were convicted of specific crimes will not be allowed to have juvenile jurisdiction in their case, even if they are still a juvenile at the time of offense. The courts in North Carolina, however, are exploring this and other matters related to juvenile jurisdiction to determine what the future will hold with regard to juvenile cases.

We are ready and able to help with your case in Juvenile Court at Greenwood Law.

 Juvenile Court is entirely different from adult court and can have many different provisions, filings, pleadings, and arguments that need to be made in order to effectively adjudicate a case. We are ready, through our experience and knowledge, at Greenwood Law to assist any young person charged with a crime. Contact us if you are in need of our services in juvenile law at 336-661-8788 or via our website email contact at and we will be happy to assist you in this process.


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