What to know if your child is accused of a crime

In North Carolina juvenile offenses can have very serious consequences. Juvenile charges will have lasting effects on a child’s academic record as well as adult criminal history, which can result in even more severe offenses down the line. DurhamCountyNC.gov provides parents the following information, which is crucial should their children face criminal charges.

Before Court

If a juvenile (which are children aged 6 through 15) is alleged to have committed a crime a complaint will be filed. From here the child may be taken to a detention facility, which usually occurs when a law enforcement official actually witnesses the crime or the juvenile is thought to be lawfully absent from school. The parent will be notified in this case, and a juvenile cannot be held for more than 12 hours (unless he or she is detained on a weekend or holiday). Next, parents and child will be requested to attend an intake meeting, where the court will decide whether to divert the case or petition for it to be taken to court (which happens with more serious charges). In some instances, the juvenile will be taken into custody until the court date.

During the Hearing

Juveniles can be charged with misdemeanors or felonies. With misdemeanors the initial court date occurs within 3 to 6 weeks post-petition. With felony charges, the first court date is referred to as a first appearance and this must occur within ten days of a petition. Non-admission of guilt will lead to an adjudicatory hearing, wherein evidence will be presented to the judge so he or she make a determination (juveniles are not subject to jury hearings). If found guilty, the juvenile will be subject to a dispositional hearing. This can entail a change of custody, detention, probation, counseling, placement in a group home, or another disciplinary tactic.


As stated above, a criminal record can have numerous effects on the life of a minor. For instance, a driver’s license may be delayed until probation has been completed. The ability to be accepted into the military or certain types of employment may also be in jeopardy, as will acceptance into public housing. A juvenile record may also play a role in future cases, even as an adult. This can lead to increased charges and penalties, and may even incur jail time.

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