North Carolina’s new Raise the Age law now prevents many non-violent youth offenders under the age of 18 from being mandatorily sent to adult court, according to news reports.
These new referrals to juvenile court will provide youths 16 and 17 more opportunities to receive rehabilitative services and counseling. It also gives them the chance for their records to remain confidential, reported Tribune News Service, Richmond County Daily Journal and The Associated Press.
“This is big change. Kids are different. Their brains are not fully developed,” said Mecklenburg County Juvenile Court Judge Elizabeth Trosch. “This law gives young people the opportunity to, one, be held accountable for their wrong and, two, learn that they made a mistake without having life- changing consequences.”
Before Raise the Age, when North Carolina juveniles were tried as adults, their charges became public record and could place a lifetime of restrictions on their education, financial opportunities and careers.
This new rule will effect defendants, defense attorneys, judges, as well as defendants’ families. It is expected to double the size of Mecklenburg County District juvenile court cases, according to the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s office.
Kids are different. Their brains are not fully developed,”
“Defendants – as young as 13 – accused of murder and other serious violent crimes will still be tried as adults. Driving offense will also be excluded, as well as any teen who has an adult conviction before the change takes effect,” the Tribune News Services noted.
“We were the last state” to make the change, said prosecutor Heather Taraska, head of Mecklenburg County District Attorney Juvenile Court team. “This is definitely the right thing for North Carolina.”
The new law requires that Mecklenburg court and all court districts create a “justice partnership” with local school districts. This is not a new program and has been in place since 2015. The district attorney’s office reports the program has cut school referrals to county courts by 60%, noted the reports.
Other major North Carolina law changes reported by The Associated Press include:
• Child Abuse: This new law extends the age that a person who suffered from sexual abuse can sue for civil damages. The age is extended from 21 to 28. It gives victims older than 28 a one – time window in which to file civil suits in the up-coming years 2020 and 2021.
• Death By Distribution (aimed to target opioid dealers) It modifies existing law that enables the prosecutor to severely punish the deal- er, even if the dealer had no intentions to harm to the victim. It is punishable by seven years in prison.
• Sexual Assaults. Previously North Carolina women couldn’t revoke sexual consent. The new law nullifies the 1979 court ruling.