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Juvenile Law Attorney in Gastonia, North Carolina

According to statistics from the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, 28,643 total juvenile delinquent complaints were received statewide in 2020. In North Carolina, a juvenile complaint may be filed by a law enforcement officer or private citizen when a child below 18 years of age commits a delinquent act (crime). If your child has been charged with a juvenile crime and you want to understand their rights, hiring an experienced North Carolina Criminal defense attorney is crucial for detailed guidance.

At The Law Office of Eddie L. Meeks, we are dedicated to providing comprehensive legal guidance and reliable representation to children under 18 years of age in the juvenile criminal and civil court systems. As your legal guidance, I can review and investigate all of the facts surrounding your child’s unique situation and outline an effective defense strategy to help pursue the best possible outcome for their case. I will fight vigorously to protect your child’s rights, dispute the allegations with factual evidence, and ensure that those accusations don’t ruin their life.

My firm – The Law Office of Eddie L. Meeks, PLLC – proudly serves clients across Gastonia, North Carolina, and the surrounding areas of Charlotte, Lincolnton, and Hickory.

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Types of Juvenile Crimes in North Carolina

Under North Carolina law, a “juvenile” can be described as any person below 18 years of age who is not married, emancipated, or in the military. Any crime, offense, or delinquent act committed by a juvenile is referred to as a “juvenile crime.” Some common types of juvenile crimes in North Carolina include:

  • Simple assault, such as fighting

  • Disorderly conduct at school

  • Sexual assault

  • Theft or larceny (Shoplifting)

  • Possession of drug paraphernalia

  • Underage drinking

  • ID theft or check forgery

  • Computer crimes

  • Gang-related activities

  • Vandalism and graffiti

If your child has been arrested and charged with any of these juvenile crimes, an experienced juvenile law attorney can explore their possible defenses, help them navigate the North Carolina juvenile justice process, and ensure that they do not get lost in the court system.

The Juvenile Justice Process

Here are the steps involved in the North Carolina juvenile justice process:

Complaint: The juvenile court process begins when a law enforcement officer or private citizen files a complaint alleging that a child is a delinquent juvenile – in other words, has committed an offense that would otherwise be a crime if committed by an adult.

Temporary Custody (Detention Center): The juvenile may be placed in a detention center if the law enforcement officer witnessed the delinquent act or has reasons to believe that the juvenile is unlawfully absent from school, regularly disobedient, or found in places that are unlawful for juveniles to be.

Intake Meeting: During the intake meeting, the juvenile court counselors will process and evaluate the complaint. The court counselors will interview the juvenile with their parent or guardian in attendance. The case will be transferred to court if the parent fails to attend the intake meeting.

Diversion Program: Depending on the outcome of the intake meeting, the court counselors may divert the juvenile case to restitution, mediation, community service, or a counseling program. The complaint will be dismissed once the child successfully completes the diversion program.

Petition: In more serious delinquency cases, such as a felony offense, a petition may be filed by the court counselor ordering the juvenile and their parent to go to court. An adjudicatory hearing will be scheduled.

Adjudicatory Hearing: During the adjudicatory hearing, the child’s legal representative will present their witnesses, evidence, and arguments refuting the allegations in the petition. If the judge finds the juvenile to be delinquent, a disposition hearing will be held.

Disposition Hearing: At the dispositional hearing, the judge has the following options:

  • Dismiss the case

  • Continue the case for up to six months

  • Order the juvenile to be placed in someone else’s custody

  • Place the juvenile under probation

  • Order the juvenile to pay restitution to the victim

  • Order the juvenile to perform community service

  • Order the juvenile to attend counseling and other community programs

  • Order substance abuse treatment for the juvenile

  • Send the child to a Youth Development Center (YDC)

  • Send the child to a detention center

An experienced attorney can enlighten you and your child about the possible outcome or consequence of their case and determine whether they will be tried as an adult.

When a Juvenile Can Be Tried As An Adult

Furthermore, juveniles can’t be tried as adults for committing nonviolent offenses. However, a juvenile who commits a delinquent act may be tried as an adult in the following instances:

  • The juvenile allegedly committed the crime at age 18 or older

  • The juvenile is a 16 or 17-year-old and commits a motor vehicle offense, such as impaired driving or a speeding violation

  • The juvenile has been emancipated – legally an adult before they are 18

  • The juvenile has a prior criminal conviction in adult court for certain offenses

A skilled criminal defense attorney can evaluate your child’s unique situation and help you understand the possible penalties.

Possible Penalties

In North Carolina, most nonviolent juvenile offenses are charged as misdemeanors. Unless the minor is prosecuted as an adult, the potential penalties for juveniles may not include jail time. If convicted, possible penalties include:

  • Fines and restitution

  • Probation

  • Custody

  • Community service

  • Counseling and other community programs

  • Substance abuse treatment

  • Youth Development Center (YDC)

A skilled criminal defense attorney can evaluate the surrounding circumstances of your child’s case, help you understand the possible ramifications of a juvenile conviction, and outline an effective defense strategy.

Work With a Knowledgeable Juvenile Law Attorney

Being charged with a juvenile crime can be frightening and confusing. If convicted, such a criminal record can result in devastating, immediate, and long-term consequences, including difficulties in getting into an academic program, employment, housing, and other future opportunities. Moreover, the North Carolina juvenile justice system operates differently from the adult court system. It is important that you retain a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney who is familiar with the juvenile court system to help defend your child’s rights.

At The Law Office of Eddie L. Meeks, I have devoted my career to handling juvenile cases and helping parents and guardians protect their child’s future. As your legal counsel, I can investigate every last detail of your child’s unique circumstances and strategize an effective defense for their case. Using my extensive resources, I can help you and your child navigate the North Carolina juvenile justice system and guide you through every phase of the legal proceedings. I will fight vigorously to defend your child’s rights and improve their chances of a better tomorrow.

Juvenile Law Attorney Serving Gastonia, North Carolina

If your child has been charged with a juvenile crime, you need to protect their future. Contact my firm – The Law Office of Eddie L. Meeks, PLLC – today to schedule a simple case evaluation. I can offer them the detailed legal counsel, strong advocacy, and vigorous representation they need in their juvenile case. My firm is proud to represent children under 18 years and their parents throughout Gastonia, Charlotte, Lincolnton, and Hickory, North Carolina.