Raise the Age
North Carolina was one of the last states in the nation to adopt what has become known as “Raise the Age.”
Consistent with the Juvenile Justice Act, the groundbreaking legislation goes into effect December 1, 2019.
Raise the Age or “RTA” is intended to break the School to Prison Pipeline. There are legitimate questions whether RTA will serve that purpose.
“As well-meaning as the law may be, there will most certainly be substantial changes to the way OBX criminal charges proceed in court.”
– Danny Glover, Outer Banks Criminal Defense Lawyer
“Raising the Age” involves limiting the number and type of cases that defendants under the age of 18 years old may be prosecuted as an adult.
It may come as a surprise to some that NC criminal laws, like those in many states, authorize in certain circumstances the prosecution of minors (defendants who have not yet reached the age of “majority” at the time of the offense) as adults.
Even with Raise the Age, prosecution of minors is not entirely eliminated.Questions about Raise the Age
Our court system involves a complicated balance of time and resources.
How matters are charged, prosecuted, indicted, and disposed is a complex, if not downright confusing process at times.
Critics and Fans of RTA alike have questions:
- Has the General Assembly allocated sufficient funds to comply with the Juvenile Justice Act?
- How will Raise the Age affect the prosecution of criminal matters by law enforcement and District Attorneys’ Offices?
- Will the new law limit felony and misdemeanor charges in court?
- Will breaking the School to Prison Pipeline result in a flood of new cases in Juvenile Court?
- Will the Juvenile Court system be able to handle the new influx of cases?
- How will RTA affect recidivism rates?
- Will the OBX community be more or less safe after full implementation of the goals of the Juvenile Justice Act?
The individual Outer Banks counties and judicial districts are, in some instances, the smallest in North Carolina.
It remains to be seen whether the “transfer” process will cause problems in places like Elizabeth City, Hertford, Dare, Hyde, and Tyrell.
Reportedly, the Council for Children’s Rights in Mecklenburg County (Charlotte) is concerned about certain aspects of RTA, including funding. That’s true too for lawyers in the Outer Banks.
“In some ways, this is a leap of faith. It’s not often that our courts face such substantive and substantial changes to the very structure and operation of our system of justice.”
– Danny Glover, OBX Lawyer
Lawyers experienced handling “delinquency charges” in North Carolina understand the complexities of the juvenile justice system. Many, if most criminal lawyers concede juvenile delinquency charges often are more intricate and time-consuming.
Even in instances where the State (the prosecutor or “DA”) decides to proceed with adult charges, there are time-consuming steps to “transfer” the case to Superior Court.
It seems likely that will occur with greater frequency following the conditions imposed by RTA.
Juvenile Court delinquency charges also commonly involve a referral to Child Protective Services (CPS) / the NC Department of Social Services (DSS).
Transfer hearings also, consistent with N.C.G.S. 7B-2200.5 require a True Bill of Indictment and a finding of Probable Cause.What is RTA / Raise the Age?
Raise the Age diverts certain low-level felony charges to Juvenile Court. If convicted, the defendant is “adjudicated to be delinquent.”
That’s different than being found “guilty” or “not guilty” after a trial in either criminal District Court or Superior Court.
Juvenile Court proceedings are handled by a District Court Judge. That’s true for both misdemeanor and felony charges.
Outside juvenile court, felonies, with certain exceptions, are generally handled in Superior Court and misdemeanor cases are disposed of in District Court.
With Raise the Age, District Court Judges will be required, when legally appropriate, to pass judgment on matters ordinarily assigned to a Superior Court Judge and possibly a jury, depending on the nature and circumstances of the allegations.
There are not jury trials in juvenile court.
Raise the Age establishes some important exceptions to the stated goal of eliminating the long-lasting consequences of a criminal conviction.
For example, criminal charges involving motor vehicle offenses are specifically excluded from protection under RTA.
“As odd as it may sound, in certain circumstances it will be easier to avoid a felony conviction than it will be for one involving DWI or impaired driving.”
– Danny Glover, OBX DWI Lawyer
DWI charges, including traffic tickets, and other Chapter 20 violations (the NC traffic laws) allow for prosecution as an adult and are not subject to Raise the Age.Related Legal Topics
- What is an Indictment?
- What is a Criminal Summons?
- Felony Serious Injury by Vehicle
- Felony Death by Vehicle
- OBX Drug Charges
- Raise the Age – Legislative Updates
Danny Glover is an experienced defense lawyer.
“We look forward to helping people with criminal charges and matters involving Outer Banks DWI. If you have questions, give us a call.”
– Danny Glover
You may email Danny Glover at: Danny@DannyGloverLawFirm.com
Call Danny Glover NOW: 252-299-5300