In the criminal justice system in North Carolina, adults and juveniles are typically separate. However, there may be times when a juvenile may face charges as an adult. The juvenile court handles crimes differently than adult courts. Juveniles are looked at being delinquent and crimes they commit are handled as a delinquent act rather than a crime.

As of December 1, 2019, the juvenile courts will handle criminal charges for those age 17 or younger, according to the North Carolina Judicial Branch. However, before this date, if you are 16 or older and you commit a crime, then you are automatically tried after an adult. After this date, you will not be tried as an adult unless you are 18 years old or older.

It is important to note that the court may transfer any juvenile who is at least 13 years old to adult court if he or she commits a Class A felony. This does not change after the 2019 date. Having a case moved to adult court comes with more serious penalties and punishment. It may subject a child to being imprisoned with adults as well instead of being held in a juvenile facility.

It is often up to the judge to make the call about moving your case to the adult court. It typically only happens for the most serious violent crimes. Making the decision is not something a court take lightly because of the ramifications of a juvenile in an adult courtroom. This information is for education and is not legal advice.