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Bill allows 16- and 17-year-olds to be tried as juveniles

On May 17, it was reported that the North Carolina House of Representatives approved a bill that would allow courts to try those under the age of 18 as juveniles for most offenses. The state remains the only one in the nation to still charge 16- and 17-year-olds as adults for all crimes, no matter how minor.

The measure would not take effect until 2019, providing two years to phase out the practice of trying 16- and 17-year-olds as adults. It would allow misdemeanor and nonviolent felony cases to be taken to juvenile court. The bill has the support of both lawmakers and law enforcement agencies. The concerns that others have deal more with the financial aspect of moving the cases to juvenile court over the actual terms of the proposed measure.

House Bill 280 is considered to be an essential measure that will help protect the state's young individuals and their futures. A representative of American Civil Liberties Union also voiced her support for the bill.

When 16- or 17-year-olds are accused of committing crimes, a conviction can have far-reaching impacts on their future. For example, a conviction could result in a prison sentence where their safety and health may be at risk. Further, if they are tried as an adult, they may lose their ability to seek further education and qualify for student loans, potentially preventing them from seeking gainful employment later in life. In order to protect young individuals against serious allegations, a criminal law attorney could provide an aggressive defense against the charges, especially if there are noted weaknesses in the prosecution's case.

Source: WECT 6, "State House approves raise the age bill", May 17, 2017

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