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Bill would keep older teens in juvenile court system

In North Carolina, certain juveniles can be charged as adults for misdemeanor offenses. This can lead to much harsher consequences and be detrimental to the rest of an individual's life. 

Current law allows 16 and 17-year-old individuals to be charged as an adult, even for minor offenses such as stealing a bag of chips from a convenience store. All juveniles age 16 and 17 are charged as adults, even for misdemeanors. If a teenager is charged as an adult and convicted, he or she could end up serving time in prison. This would dramatically change this person's future, making getting into college, the military or finding employment very challenging. 

North Carolina lawmakers have proposed legislation that would keep juveniles in the juvenile court system if they are charged with committing a misdemeanor. The proposed bill is titled "Young Offenders Rehabilitation Act."

This bill would create a juvenile jurisdiction advisory committee to evaluate juvenile offenses and require juveniles ages 16 and 17 to be tried as juveniles for misdemeanor offenses. The bill would also create a civil citation process for juvenile offenders. 

The lawmakers said that the bill would lead to safer communities, better outcome for teenagers and save the state money. 

If the bill is passed and signed into law, juveniles in North Carolina would no longer have to worry about being charged as an adult for misdemeanor offenses. This could have a substantial impact on a juvenile's future by helping him or her have better opportunities to attend college or find employment as well as keep a criminal conviction off their public record. 

Source: INDY Week, "Bipartisan bill would raise age of juvenile jurisdiction in N.C.," Jane Porter, March 31, 2015

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