Raise the Age: NC – New Law Changing the Age of Majority from 16 to 18 – North Carolina Criminal Law
Recently, North Carolina criminal law has had some very exciting changes. As of the time of this post, anyone 16-years-old or older that is accused of a crime is automatically tried as an adult in adult criminal court, regardless of the crime. Although not in effect yet as of this writing, North Carolina will be changing the age of majority from 16 to 18 for purposes of North Carolina criminal law. Criminal defendants under age 18 will no longer automatically be tried as adults. This law is to take effect on December 1, 2019.
Once the new law takes effect on December 1, 2019, these young criminal defendants will no longer be treated the same as their adult counterparts. Rather, they will prosecuted in juvenile court, depending on the crime. Note that juvenile criminal defendants can still wind up in adult criminal court if they are accused of certain crimes or if the facts lend themselves to a finding that adult criminal court is the appropriate court for juvenile defendant. This law simply does away with the blanket rule that all 16-and17-year-olds are to be tried as adults in NC criminal courts.
What states still try all 16-and-17-year-olds as adults?
North Carolina is the last state in the United States to raise the age of majority to 18-years-old for criminal law purposes. New York was the only other state that still prosecuted minors as adults, but it passed a bill changing the age of majority to 18.
What does it mean to be tried as an adult?
This means that, although the 16-or-17-year-old is still considered a minor with regard to most things in NC, they are considered an adult for purposes of criminal law. A 16-year-old is treated no differently than an adult in the eyes of the law. Adult criminal court automatically has jurisdiction over these young criminal defendants. The severity of the crime is irrelevant. Most of these kids are charged with very minor petty crimes.
So, what happens now when a 16-or-17-year-old has been charged with a crime?
Unfortunately, the young criminal defendant will still automatically be tried as an adult. Since the law has not taken affect yet, these kids will be stuck in this antiquated system that will linger for almost two more years in North Carolina. And unfortunately, it does not seem that prosecutors are willing to be more lenient on these individuals in light of the new law.
If you are facing criminal charges, you should contact a criminal defense lawyer to discuss your options. Whether you are facing state charges in North or South Carolina or federal charges in North or South Carolina, contact Gilles Law for a free consultation.