Has Your Teenager Been Arrested in North Carolina? Here’s How You Can Help

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By the Juvenile Crimes Defense Attorneys at Knox Law Center in Charlotte & Lake Norman

We try our best to instill good values and smart judgment in our children, but we also know that everyone–teens, especially–sometimes make poor choices that can lead to legal troubles. If your child is one of them, you’re not alone. In North Carolina, approximately 5,655 children under the age of 16 faced charges in juvenile court in 2017.1

If you receive a phone call from the police informing you that they’ve detained your child, don’t panic. Here are 5 productive things you can do:

  1. Keep your cool. When first learning that your child has been detained, your initial instinct may be to react with anxiety-driven anger toward the police or your child. But it’s important to stay as calm as possible. Even if you feel the situation is extremely unjust, it’s in the best interest of your child to refrain from confronting or arguing with the police. Instead, find out your child’s whereabouts and get there as soon as possible.
  2. Assess the Situation. If your child is being held in custody, you may try to find out the offense or other information about the situation. However, in North Carolina the police have no legal obligation to give parents this information nor do parents have the right to be present during questioning. Nonetheless, do what you can to find out more about the situation, while being respectful and cooperative. As you do so, keep in mind that your child has a right to remain silent, the right to an attorney, and the right to a telephone call. In addition, law enforcement should not hold children in temporary custody for more than 12 hours during weekdays, or 24 hours on weekends or a legal holiday, unless a judge admits the child to secure custody.2
  3. Find a juvenile criminal defense attorney. You should seek an experienced juvenile criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. A good attorney can help ensure that the police are respecting your child’s legal rights, find out relevant information about the situation, and keep you informed. The North Carolina juvenile code provides that juveniles are entitled to a court-appointed attorney 3, but you may choose to find and hire a juvenile defense attorney who you trust and that meets your own qualifications.
  4. Determine the court jurisdiction. As of this writing, children between the ages of 6 and 16 usually fall under the jurisdiction of the North Carolina juvenile court. As of this writing, teens aged 16 and 17 are charged as adults for any crime committed. However, this will soon change. On December 1, 2019, a new “raise the age” law3 widens juvenile court’s jurisdiction to include 16- and 17-year-olds accused of committing misdemeanors and non-violent felonies. If the 16- and 17-year olds are suspected of violent felony or motor vehicle offenses, however, they will be charged as adults.
  5. Fully commit to the next steps. Parents have a duty to attend their child’s intake meetings, court hearings or any other proceeding related to the case. State law forbids employers from firing, demoting, or denying a promotion to parents because they must attend juvenile court hearings or comply with other juvenile court orders. You should also gather any evidence or educational records that may support your child’s case–your child’s attorney will help you determine the items that would be necessary or helpful.

If your teen is arrested in North Carolina or held in temporary custody, call the experienced Charlotte Juvenile Criminal Defense Attorneys. Talented defense lawyers in Charlotte & Mecklenburg County can provide your child with a vigorous defense and help protect their future.


  1. http://youthjusticenc.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/FINAL-Putting-Justice-in-Juvenile-System-10.5.17.pdf
  2. https://www.nccourts.gov/help-topics/family-and-children/juvenile-delinquency
  3. https://www.ncdps.gov/our-organization/juvenile-justice/key-initiatives/raise-age-nc

The attorneys at Knox Law Center have been providing effective juvenile criminal defense services for decades in Mecklenburg county and Charlotte, NC. Our attorneys can help navigate the confusing and expensive process of clearing juveniles charged with crimes from their records, reinstating their full rights and generally helping to put the criminal charges behind them. Give our Charlotte juvenile criminal defense lawyers a call today to learn more about your options.

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