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New “Raise the Age” law may affect juvenile defense

Young people making mistakes seems to be a regular part of life. Some of those mistakes may result in criminal charges. That doesn’t always mean that the young person actually committed a crime, but even if that is the case, teens deserve a chance at a promising future. That is why a young person accused of a crime needs a strong juvenile defense strategy. Recent changes to North Carolina law may change how many of these cases are handled in the future.

The law is called “Raise the Age” and it took effect at the start of last month. It means that kids aged 16 and 17 won’t automatically be charged as adults for certain crimes. They can still be charged as adults for violent crimes, certain motor vehicle crimes and in some other circumstances. However, the intention is that juveniles up to the age of 18 will have their cases sent to juvenile court unless one of the exceptions applies.

Authorities say that the juvenile court system will see its caseload increase significantly due to this change. However, the state is allocating money to counties in order to properly manage the growth. One county has dedicated parts of the budget for an addiction specialist, increased staff training and a community service assistant.

Even if a young person here in North Carolina is tried as a juvenile, it can still have a significant impact on his or her life. Having a criminal record could affect the young person’s chance at future scholarships or even make it more difficult to obtain employment. Parents concerned for their child’s future may want to speak with an attorney who can determine the best available options for juvenile defense.

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