Governor of North Carolina Vetoes Bill That Would Force More Young People to Be Tried in Adult Court

Governor of North Carolina Vetoes Bill That Would Force More Young People to Be Tried in Adult Court

Raleigh, North Carolina — On Friday, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed a bill that would have made sure that more young people accused of major crimes would be tried in adult court instead of juvenile court, where some of them might still be.

The bill recently passed both the House and the Senate with strong support from both parties. It would change changes made to the youth justice system in recent years that affect 16- and 17-year-old offenders.

Law critics told the Democratic governor that the changes were rolling back the “Raise the Age” provisions that were supposed to go into effect in late 2019 and stop requiring kids this age to be tried in the adult criminal justice system. The governor agreed with those people.

People thought that getting rid of automatic prosecution in adult court would help more young people escape getting public criminal records for small mistakes and give them access to youth-focused resources in the juvenile system, where records aren’t public.

In his veto message, Cooper said, “I remain concerned that this new law would keep some children from getting the treatment they need while making communities less safe.” Senators worked to make the vetoed bill better than the original bill.

The general assembly member who pushed the bill said the changes were made to reflect the fact that these young people charged with serious felonies ended up in adult court, and the legal steps needed to move them from juvenile to adult court were making it hard for prosecutors to handle their juvenile cases. Sen. Danny Britt, who pushed for the bill, didn’t answer a text message Friday asking for reaction right away.

The bill is now back in the General Assembly, where a veto override could happen. Together, 18 Democrats in the House and Senate voted for the bill, while 1 Republican voted against it. Republicans already have a slim enough majority in the General Assembly to override all 19 of Cooper’s vetoes last year. This year, Cooper also put down a ban that has not been overridden.

Under juvenile justice law, 16- and 17-year-olds who are accused of the worst felonies must be taken to adult court as soon as an indictment is served or a hearing finds that there is reasonable cause to believe a crime was committed. Prosecutors have chosen not to bring these young people charged with lesser crimes to adult court.

With the new language, most of these serious crimes would no longer have to be transferred, so the cases of these teens would have gone straight to adult court.

Up until “Raise the Age,” North Carolina was the last state where 16- and 17-year-olds were automatically tried as adults. These teens are still being tried in adult court for crimes involving cars.

“Most violent crimes should be handled by adults, even if they are done by teens.” Cooper’s message said, “However, there are times when teens would get better results and more fitting sentences for the seriousness of their crimes if they were tried in juvenile court, which would make communities safer.” “This bill makes it very unlikely that this important option will come up.”

The bill also would have set up a new way for a case to be moved from Superior Court to juvenile court, with the adult records erased, if both the prosecutor and the defendant’s lawyer agreed.

Kids between the ages of 13 and 15 who are accused of first-degree murder must still be sent to adult court as soon as there is reasonable cause or an indictment.

It would have also been harder for adults to get minors to commit crimes if the bill had been passed.

Source: AP News

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