What to Do if Your Child is Charged With a Crime in North Carolina

Has your child been arrested for a crime in Charlotte or elsewhere in North Carolina? You may be understandably worried about your child's future. It is important that you do not panic and be sure to contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible.

The Charlotte criminal defense attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC understand the stress and fear parents face when their children face criminal charges. Our attorneys are here to help you understand the process you will face and defend your child against criminal charges and their consequences. We will do everything possible to minimize the criminal justice system's impact on your child's life and future.

Immediate Steps to Take if Your Child is Arrested

If your child has been arrested, the steps you take immediately after the arrest can help or hurt his or her case. If possible, do not allow your child to be questioned by a police officer without an attorney present. Instead, you should contact an attorney immediately. Remember, your child has the same legal rights as an adult if he or she has been placed under arrest. Some of the most common criminal charges juveniles face in North Carolina include the following:

  • Driving while intoxicated (DWI)
  • Theft
  • Identity theft
  • Computer crimes
  • Minor in possession of alcohol
  • Drug charges
  • Sex crimes
  • Vandalism
  • Assault and other violent crimes
  • Truancy

Additionally, your child has special legal protections, such as the right to have a parent present during an interrogation. Police officers must have probable cause to search your child, and your child has the right to remain silent under the Fifth Amendment. Your child also has the right to know the charges being filed against him or her and the right to legal counsel.

What Penalties Could My Child Be Facing?

The North Carolina Juvenile Justice system is separate from the criminal justice system for adults in North Carolina. With that in mind, the goal of the juvenile justice system is not to punish your child.

Instead, the goal is to rehabilitate juvenile offenders. When a minor faces juvenile charges, she will not have a trial by jury. The child will not be subject to the same penalties adult offenders receive, such as mandatory jail time or expensive fines. Depending on the facts and circumstances of your child's case and the severity of the crime, your child could receive the following penalties:

  • A fine
  • A verbal warning
  • Required counseling
  • Electronic monitoring and/or house arrest
  • Placement into foster care
  • Community service
  • Commitment to a juvenile detention center
  • Juvenile and adult jail, known as a blended sentence
What is Juvenile Court?

The North Carolina Juvenile Justice system has a specific process for handling complaints against minors alleged to be undisciplined or delinquent. For example, when a minor participates in conduct that would be deemed a crime if committed by an adult, the behavior is considered delinquent.

Vandalism and shoplifting are common examples of delinquent minor crimes. When a juvenile is considered undisciplined, he or she is seen as outside of the discipline of parents and guardians. When juveniles engage in inappropriate conduct that does not rise to the level of a crime, they can be categorized as undisciplined. Examples of undisciplined behavior include skipping school or running away from home.

Juvenile courts have the legal authority to impose consequences that seek to rehabilitate undisciplined or delinquent minors. In juvenile court, minors do not get criminal records even if convicted. They have juvenile records that remain sealed. Additionally, juveniles are not charged with a crime. Instead, they are petitioned.

They do not have criminal trials but have adjudicated hearings. In rare cases, children can be charged as adults and subjected to the regular criminal justice system. However, 16 and 17-year-old minors are no longer automatically tried as adults. Generally, the crime needs to be serious, such as murder or assault, for an older teenager to be charged as an adult.

Speak to a Charlotte Juvenile Crime Attorney Today

If your child is facing charges in Charlotte, the attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC are here to help. We understand how devastating and scary it can be to know your child is facing criminal charges. We will use our skills, experience, and resources to investigate the case and develop an effective legal strategy. Do not hesitate to contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC to schedule a complimentary case evaluation.