What to Do if Your Child is Arrested in North Carolina

Has your child been arrested for a crime in Charlotte or elsewhere in North Carolina? If so, you may be highly concerned about your child's future. You must contact an experienced criminal defense attorney right away. At Arnold & Smith, PLLC, our criminal defense attorneys understand the fear and stress parents undergo when their child faces a criminal charge.

We will investigate the circumstances related to the charges and defend your child, aggressively pursuing the best outcome possible. Our attorneys will do everything possible to minimize the criminal justice system's impact on your child's life and future. Do not hesitate to contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC, to schedule a complimentary case evaluation.

Immediate Steps to Take if Your Child is Arrested

The steps you take after your child is arrested can hurt or help their legal defense. First, do not allow your child to be interrogated by police officers without an attorney present. Contact an attorney as soon as possible so your attorney can begin protecting your child's legal rights. Your child has the same legal rights as an adult when under arrest. Additionally, juveniles have special legal protections that adults arrested do not have. For example, kids have the right to have a parent present during the interrogation.

Police officers must have probable cause to search your child and your child's possessions or living area. Your child has the constitutional right to remain silent under the Constitution's Fifth Amendment. Your child also has the right to know what charges have been filed against them and has the right to legal counsel.

Penalties for Juvenile Crimes

The goal of the juvenile justice system in North Carolina is not to punish children but to rehabilitate young offenders. When a minor has been charged with a juvenile, they will not undergo a trial by jury or be subjected to the same types of prisoner jail sentences that adult defendants may receive if convicted.

For example, they will not face mandatory prison time or costly fines. However, there are still penalties associated with juvenile crimes. Depending on the facts and circumstances surrounding your child's unique case in the severity of the crime, your child could potentially receive the following penalties:

  • A verbal warning
  • Mandatory counseling
  • A fine
  • Probation
  • Community service
  • Electronic monitoring or house arrest
  • Placement into foster care
  • Commitment to a juvenile detention center
  • Commitment to juvenile and adult jails, also known as a "blended sentence"

Some of the most common criminal charges juveniles face in North Carolina include the following:

  • Theft, including shoplifting
  • Computer-related crimes
  • Identity theft
  • Minor in possession of alcohol
  • Driving while intoxicated (DWI)
  • Truancy
  • Vandalism
  • Sex crimes
  • Drug charges
  • Assault or other violent crimes
Know Your Child's Rights

The North Carolina Juvenile Justice System handles complaints against minors under the age of 18 who are alleged to have been undisciplined or delinquent. When a minor engages in conduct that is considered a crime when adults commit the conduct, the behavior is defined as delinquent. Misdemeanors such as shopping and vandalism are typical examples of delinquent minor crimes. When juveniles engage in contact that is not a crime but is inappropriate, they are considered undisciplined. Examples of undisciplined behavior include running away from home and skipping school.

North Carolina's juvenile code states that any child charged with a crime has the right to have a parent present during interrogations while the child is in custody. The child's court records are also subjected to strict confidentiality rules. Juveniles do not have the right to request a trial by jury as other defendants do. They also do not have the right to represent themselves in court, the right to post bail or the right to a speedy trial. In limited cases, 16 and 17-year-old minors can be charged as adults, but they should not be automatically tried as adults.

When a juvenile has committed a felony offense and is 13 years old or older, the court can transfer jurisdiction to an adult court. If the alleged felony is a Class A felony, such as intentional homicide, and the court finds probable cause, the transfer is mandatory. When a juvenile is legally transferred to and convicted as an adult in criminal court, they will face penalties associated with the crime as an adult. It is important to remember that most juvenile criminal charges do not proceed to adult criminal courts.

Discuss Your Case With a Juvenile Criminal Defense Attorney

Our criminal defense attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, have extensive experience fighting for North Carolina residents charged with various crimes, including juveniles. We have the experience needed to aggressively argue for a dismissal or reduction of the charges against you. Our attorneys will fight for your rights every step of the way, providing you with a strong legal defense. Contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC, to schedule a free case evaluation.