Teenagers often don't fully consider the consequences and long-term implications of their actions. Their brains are in the process of developing and growing, which means they simply don't have the capacity to make decisions in the way an adult could. Impulsivity and a little recklessness can combine to put your child in a very precarious position.
It only takes one big mistake as a teenager to completely destroy someone's plans for the future. Youthful offenders in North Carolina have long faced very serious consequences for their teenage indiscretions. For many years, teenagers who were 16 or 17 faced adult penalties and criminal records for charges. Beginning in December of 2018, however, these younger defendants will face justice in the juvenile court system.
New law seeks to help young offenders move on with life
Someone who isn't even old enough to vote or drink a beer shouldn't have to deal with adult consequences for a mistake. Not only can incarceration lead to psychological issues and increase the risk of recidivism, the criminal record that results from a conviction could haunt your child for the rest of his or her life. Provided that the charge stems from a nonviolent offense, minor children can now face trial in the juvenile justice system, which focuses more on rehabilitation than punishment.
By changing the way the courts approach offenses involving older teenagers, it's possible to avoid the worst negative outcomes associated with a teenage conviction. Plenty of young people make mistakes, from experimenting with drugs to deciding to drive after having a drink. By charging these young adults in the juvenile system, the criminal courts in North Carolina could prevent future offenses and the lifelong impact of an adult conviction.
Certain charges have more of an impact than others
Some of the more common offenses for juveniles accused of crimes include simple assault, larceny, disorderly conduct at school, simple affray (a fight between two people in a public place), breaking and entering homes or vehicles, communicating threats, truancy, property damage and possession of stolen goods.
Drug and alcohol offenses are also relatively common. Violent offenses can still result in adult court proceedings, while drug offenses could leave your teenager unable to receive federal financial aid for college.
Juvenile justice can refocus and rehabilitate
For those facing the juvenile justice system, there are many different approaches when compared with the adult criminal justice system. Juvenile offenders may receive community confinement, such as house arrest, instead of standard incarceration.
Their families are encouraged to participate in addressing problem behaviors. The courts also do their best to support academic progress and the development of a healthy peer network, combined with a focus on pro-social values and skills.