Juvenile criminal defense is an important part of our practice.  Whether in North or South Carolina, an individual that is adjudicated delinquent can face serious challenges.  Our juvenile criminal defense lawyers are here to answer your questions about the process.  Below is an overview of the process in North and South Carolina.


In South Carolina, any person less than 17 years of age is considered a juvenile, except for 16 year olds who are charged with a Class A, B, C, or D felony, or an offense for which they could face 15 years of punishment. Rather than being charged with a complaint, as adults are, they are charged with a petition, which is a formal document alleging that the child is delinquent. When this occurs, the child may be eligible for a diversion process, at the solicitor’s discretion. If the child is eligible for the diversion process, it is great opportunity for the child to get rid of the charge without going through the court process. If the child is not able to go through the diversion process, then he or she will face a judge at a hearing to determine whether he or she is delinquent (guilty) or not delinquent (not guilty). If the child is determined to be not delinquent, then he or she is done with the court system for that charge. If however, the child is adjudicated to be delinquent, then the child will be sentenced. In South Carolina, there are several options that a judge can sentence a child to. The first option is for the child to be given probation. The child must follow the rules of the probation that the judge determines will apply. The second option is for a determinate amount of time. The judge will sentence the defendant will serve. Once the amount of time to be served is complete, the defendant is released. The last option that can be used is commitment for an indeterminate amount of time. The amount of time is determined by the severity of the offense, the child’s prior record, and how well he or she behaves while he or she is confined.


North Carolina’s juvenile justice system is similar. There is a complaint from law enforcement or citizens. At this point, the child may be eligible for a diversion program. As mentioned before, if a child is eligible for a diversion program, it should probably be taken advantage of. Successful completion of a program will keep a child out of the court process. If a diversion program is not available, a petition is filed, alleging that the child is delinquent. At this point, the child will face an adjudicatory hearing, where he or she will be found delinquent (guilty) or not delinquent (not guilty). If the child is found not delinquent, then his or her involvement with the court process is over. On the other hand, if the child is found delinquent, there will be a dispositional hearing, which is essentially a sentencing hearing. At this hearing, the judge will determine what the plan is for the child. There are a few different options. The first is protective supervision. If a child is subject to protective supervision, a court counselor will be appointed to check on the juvenile. If the child violates a law, the child will go back in front of the court. Another option is probation. Again, the child will be appointed a court counselor to follow up with. If the child violates the law, or any of the terms of probation set by the judge, he or she will have to come back to court. Finally, the judge may order that the person be taken into a Youth Development Center. While the juvenile is committed to the facility, a court counselor will work with him or her and the family of the child. After release from the Youth Development Center, the juvenile will be on Post Release Supervision. During this period, he or she will be supervised by they court counselor. The child is not to violate any law, or else he or she will have to go back in front of the judge.


As you can see, in juvenile delinquency cases, much is at stake. If your child has been charged with a crime in either North or South Carolina, our juvenile delinquency defense lawyers can help you navigate the legal system. Our lawyers are here to guide you and your child through the various options, and can advise you as to the best way to handle the case. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to give us a call.

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