Raise the Age - NC

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Raise the Age Implementation - One Year Later

Effective Dec. 1, 2019, 16 and 17 year old individuals who commit crimes in North Carolina are no longer automatically  charged in the adult criminal justice system. In 2017, lawmakers raised the age of juvenile jurisdiction for nonviolent crimes to age 18, following years of research, study and education on this topic. The ‘Raise the Age’ initiative became law only through a strong, bipartisan coalition of support from all three branches of government, law enforcement and advocacy organizations, which continues today. Felony Class A through G offenses alleged against youth aged 16 or 17 on date of offense continue to be heard in the adult criminal justice system. Chapter 20 motor vehicle offenses are only processed under juvenile jurisdiction for those younger than 16. 

JJ- RaiseTheAge-YearOneOverview

Tab/Accordion Items

Definition (Considering Current Offense)

  • New definition of “delinquent juvenile” includes 16 and 17‐year‐olds who commit crimes, infractions or indirect contempt by a juvenile, but excludes all Chapter 20 motor vehicle offenses for those 16 and 17 year olds. Note Chapter 20 offenses remain under juvenile jurisdiction for those younger than 16.

Exclusions/Once and Adult, Always an Adult (Considering Past Convictions)

Some juveniles are excluded from juvenile jurisdiction. Those who have previously been transferred to and convicted in superior court continue to be excluded from juvenile jurisdiction. Emancipated and married juveniles are excluded from juvenile jurisdiction. Newly excluded juveniles are those that: 

  • have been convicted in either district or superior court for a felony or misdemeanor. 
    The exception for this reads, “Violations of the motor vehicle laws punishable as a misdemeanor or infraction shall not be considered a conviction for the purposes of this subsection unless the conviction is for an offense involving impaired driving as defined by G.S. 20-4.01(24a)." 
    This exception means that all felony Chapter 20 convictions will result in exclusion from juvenile jurisdiction, as will an misdemeanor Chapter 20 conviction involving impaired driving.
    Maximum age of jurisdiction: for 16 year olds, until age 19; for 17 year olds, until age 20; beyond maximum age, court has indefinite jurisdiction over felonies and related misdemeanors to either transfer the case to Superior Court or dismiss the petition
  • Effective Dec. 1, 2019, all criminal cases for juveniles up to age 18 (with the exception of exclusions above) will begin in juvenile court.
    • for Class A-G felony complaints, transfer to adult (superior) court is mandatory upon notice of an indictment, or a finding of probable cause after notice and a hearing;
    • For Class H or I felonies, any transfer to adult (superior) court requires a transfer hearing
  • Juvenile court counselors must begin conducting gang assessment during intake
    • these assessments will become part of the juvenile court counselor’s record
    • if court finds that offense in question was committed as part of criminal gang activity, required to increase juvenile’s disposition level by one
  • Effective Oct.1, 2017, victims have greater protections to include:
    • Mandatory notification of filing decision, reasons for the decision and whether the matter was closed, diverted or retained;
    • Mandatory notification of right to have prosecutor review the filing decision; and
    • Development of process by Juvenile Justice to inform victims about status of pending complaints and their right to review the filing decision
  • Law enforcement have greater access to information
    • Effective Oct. 1, 2017, Juvenile Justice began tracking consultations with law enforcement that do not result in the filing of a petition
    • Juvenile Justice shares information such as:
      • Juvenile’s delinquency record and any past LEO consultation in regard to juvenile
      • Sharing of information must be related to a specific juvenile, whereby a LEO is investigating an incident that could lead to the filing of a complaint
      • LEO may not obtain records, and must maintain confidentiality of any information shared
  • The Administrative Office of the Courts will provide electronic records related to juvenile delinquency proceedings to prosecutors and juvenile defense attorneys; database must also be expanded to statewide inquiry access
  • Administrative Office of the Courts has been authorized to develop policies related to implementing school-justice partnerships statewide: to reduce in-school arrests, and out-of-school suspensions and expulsions. Reference: https://www.nccourts.gov/programs/school-justice-partnership/sjps-in-no…
  • Development and implementation of new juvenile justice training requirements for law enforcement officers of all levels, by the N.C. Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission, N.C. Sheriffs’ Education and Training Standards Commission in consultation with Juvenile Justice
  • Creation of Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee in October 2017. The JJAC is tasked with developing an implementation plan for raising the age of juvenile jurisdiction, monitoring implementation and as needed, providing additional recommendations to the General Assembly. Its final report to the General Assembly is due by January 2023.

Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act

JJ Reinvestment Act Summary - School of Government - UNC Chapel Hill

To implement the change in the age of juvenile jurisdiction, the Juvenile Jurisdiction Advisory Committee's (JJAC) 2019 interim report recommended legislative changes to existing law, including the resources necessary to fund the expanded juvenile population that will accompany that increase in the age of juvenile jurisdiction. Fiscal year 19-20 (recurring and non-recurring) costs for North Carolina’s entire juvenile justice system – encompassing the needs of the Juvenile Justice Section of the Department of Public Safety; Administrative Office of the Courts; Office of the Juvenile Defender; and Conference of District Attorneys – are approximately $65.9 million. These funds support:

  • expanded programming and services in local communities, for dispositional alternatives for judges;
  • the operation and associated capital costs of 300 new beds for detention;
  • expanded staffing across the Juvenile Justice Section;
  • additional electronic monitoring and juvenile transport resources;
  • expanded availability and access to vocational services for confined youths;
  • added judges, district attorneys, legal assistants and deputy clerks, along with an additional juvenile defender and juvenile court resource prosecutor.

Full list: Resource/funding needs

Additional information about JJAC recommendations

MYTH: We haven’t planned for this.

Juvenile Justice leadership presented the Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act requirements statewide during district forums. With approximately 1,600 community leaders attending at least one of more than 30 forums, and an additional 1,000 in attendance at six regional program provider forums, Juvenile Justice began the conversation locally about planning for and implementing the new age of juvenile jurisdiction. The counts of attendees follow:

  • AOC: 23
  • Clerk of Court: 71
  • County Management: 41
  • Defense Attorney: 50
  • District Attorney: 72
  • Judge: 82
  • Juvenile Justice: 500
  • Law Enforcement: 310
  • Legislator: 29
  • Mental Health: 52
  • Program Providers & JCPC members: 1,000
  • Schools: 95
  • Social Services: 45

Juvenile Justice is planning for implementation while working with community partners and other agencies, hiring the 65 Juvenile Court Services allocated positions to begin May 2019, building Rockingham Youth Development Center, renovating the C.A. Dillon campus, ensuring equipment is up to date and reflects safety needs, hiring and onboarding field service specialists in each juvenile district, and seeking detention agreements to meet the Sentencing and Policy Advisory Commission’s projection of 300 new detention beds.

Ten workgroups that include internal and/or external members work to update the Juvenile Jurisdiction Advisory Committee on implementation progress in the fields of: safety, transportation, law enforcement training, JCPC funding allocation/formula and strategic planning, facility design, Youth Development Center and Detention Center programming, re-entry/stepdown services, education/vocational options, mental health and substance abuse, and health care services.

Business analytics will help guide and monitor implementation. Developers are working to include reports in Sisense that will allow for resilient response to data trends, and guide future decisions. And, SAS is working with GDAC (NC Government Data Analytics Center) to create data analytics regarding recidivism trends by age, which meet requests made by Juvenile Justice. This data is available through the service directory and re-entry project.

MYTH: We will be overwhelmed with thousands of kids immediately.

Juveniles will enter the system slowly over time, as illustrated below through an approximate projection of youth under juvenile jurisdiction. This chart illustrates the projected trend in which new juveniles will be added to the system based on the 2017 Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act language.





MYTH: 10-year olds and 19-year olds will be housed next to each other.

  • Juvenile Justice is planning for 300 additional juvenile detention beds, and between 57 and 62 new youth development center beds. Very young juveniles will not be housed aside older juveniles.
  • Youth placed in a youth development center will be housed in different units based on age and functional abilities as well as other factors that require separation, with older youth housed at the facilities that offer vocational programming for re-entry purposes.
  • The detention population is more challenging based on the short length of stay and varied arrival (ages, time of day, location); though, older youth will be housed in a different living unit than the very young juveniles.