When a person age 17 or younger commits a crime, they often enter the juvenile justice system rather than the criminal justice system in place for adults. Juvenile courts focus on rehabilitation and typically hand down less severe punishments than those given to adults for the same crimes.
These are some things to be aware of if law enforcement charges your juvenile with a crime in North Carolina.
If an officer charges your child with a criminal offense, concern about how this might affect your child’s reputation is understandable. However, court records for juveniles are confidential, meaning that only people who have a qualified interest in the case have access to the records. In the same vein, a judge can decide to close a court hearing from public view if necessary to protect sensitive information related to the juvenile.
Unlike when an officer arrests an adult, you cannot bail a minor out from a juvenile detention center. In many but not all cases, your will be able to stay at home before the trial anyway.
Although not all counties in North Carolina have this option, family court can be a good alternative if available. Family court judges are especially familiar with juvenile cases, and these courts may offer education programs for parents.
If your minor child has pending legal charges, be sure to familiarize yourself with the juvenile legal system to help ensure a fair outcome for your child.