North Carolina is one of only two* states who treat 16-17 year olds as adults for criminal law purposes but effective April 15, 2016, a misdemeanor diversion program will ameliorate this inequity. Instead of being arrested or receiving a citation for alleged misdemeanor violations, a “youth citation” will be issued and participation in an in a diversion plan tailored to the needs of the specific teen is required. Successful completion of community service and any recommended counseling or substance abuse rehabilitation will result in the absence of filing of criminal charges. No tangible or computer record of the offense will exist and no mug shot will be taken which could hamper one’s future educational, employment or personal opportunities.
The diversion program is administered by the Criminal Justice Resource Manager and should take approximately 90 days to complete. Only teens with no prior criminal record and with allegations that are not sex-based will qualify for participation.
While we should continue to fight to amend the statute and increase the age for criminal responsibility from 16 to 18 years, Orange County teens can now join Durham County teens in catching a break.
* New York is the other state.