When minor children are implicated in criminal activity in Waxhaw, North Carolina, there is not only a completely different set of rules and standards for prosecuting and sentencing them but also an entirely separate juvenile court system.
Because children’s brains are still developing, criminal sentencing—even for serious offenses—is meant to be scaled back appropriately and focused on rehabilitation rather than punishment. This ensures that young people are given the chance to learn from their mistakes rather than have their futures crippled by them. In theory, the system that prosecutes juveniles—meaning the judges, front-line authorities, social workers, and state prosecutors involved in a case—should all ensure that a child suspected of a crime learns their lesson effectively without undue negative consequences that follow them for the rest of their lives.
There are several distinctions between North Carolina’s systems for processing juvenile delinquency cases and adult court cases:
Of course, there are also significant similarities between the dual court systems in North Carolina:
Considering the several stark differences between the procedures for Waxhaw juvenile crimes and those for typical adult charges, it is best to have the services of a criminal defense attorney that specializes in juvenile offenses. It is crucial to retain counsel from the highly experienced juvenile criminal attorneys at the Law Offices of Huffman & Kendrick.
Juvenile court is a special court system established in North Carolina and other states that is designed to handle criminal matters and other situations where a minor child is the principal party. Juvenile court will almost always be the arena for any criminal proceedings if the suspect or defendant is under the age of 18.
While the main criterion for being a legal juvenile is simply being between the ages of 6 and 17, there are a few other criteria that may be relevant in certain situations. To be legally defined as a juvenile (and thus under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court), someone must be under 18, but must also be:
While most criminal activity perpetrated by 6- to 17-year-olds will be a matter for the juvenile court system, there are some circumstances under which a minor can be tried as an adult in North Carolina:
In North Carolina, the purpose of the separate juvenile court system is to help and rehabilitate troubled youths rather than punish them. Living up to this promise for the children and families of North Carolina requires collaboration and commitment from all authority figures involved, as well as attorneys on both sides of the process. The juvenile crime attorneys at The Law Offices of Huffman & Kendrick understand what makes the juvenile court system unique. We are ready to put our skills to work, ensuring the best possible outcomes for young people who find themselves in legal trouble.
“Delinquency” as a legal term does not describe any particular crime. Rather, any minor child who engages in behaviors or activities that would be considered criminal if committed by an adult is said to be delinquent. The terms “criminal” and “delinquent” are largely interchangeable, with the former referring to adults who commit crimes and the latter being reserved for children.
If this is your first time interacting with the juvenile court system, it is important to understand the difference between the terms “delinquent” and “undisciplined.” When a minor child engages in behavior that is harmful and inappropriate, but not technically illegal, they are considered undisciplined rather than delinquent. Skipping school on a regular basis is an example of common behavior that can meet the legal definition of undisciplined. Even without evidence of actual delinquency, the juvenile court or other state officials may get involved in cases of undisciplined behavior, depending on the nature and severity of the behavior.
The juvenile court system exists to help rehabilitate and guide troubled youths rather than punish them, but any legal proceeding can be an extremely overwhelming experience for minors and their families. Juvenile court exists at a very unique intersection of family law and criminal defense, and it requires a specialized legal team to navigate the process effectively. When you need help navigating the Waxhaw juvenile courts, the experienced and compassionate team at The Law Offices of Huffman & Kendrick look forward to talking with you about your situation.