Tag Archives: juvenile defense attorney

How Does Juvenile Court Work?

No parent ever wants to hear the words “juvenile court.” It’s unfortunate, but inevitably, some parents will.

North Carolina sees “juvenile delinquents” as individuals who can be rehabilitated. “Adults” of any age will be held responsible for criminal acts they commit, so they are arrested, charged, put on trial and sentenced if they are found guilty.

If your child is in trouble with the law, it helps to understand how it all works, and what you can expect.

The Basics

How Does Juvenile Court Work?The focus of juvenile court is rehabilitation instead of jail time. If someone underage commits a wrongful act that’s classified as misdemeanor, it’s generally called a “delinquency.” There is no jury in juvenile court, and all decisions are made by a judge, who has a wider selection of rehabilitation options instead of just incarceration.

While juveniles are given punishment for breaking the law, there are a number of options besides standard jail sentences available for youthful offenders. They can also have their records wiped clean after 18 or 21 by participating in rehabilitation. Alternative sentences, such as spending time in a youth development center, probation and driving restrictions are also available.

The word “crime” usually refers to an adult offender. There are juveniles who commit “adult” crimes, and these individuals are tried as adults. The severity of the crime allows a judge to bypass the juvenile court system. Incarceration is the most likely outcome.

Delinquent vs. Undisciplined

A “delinquent” is a juvenile who has committed a crime, including traffic citations. The severity of the crime is the determining factor. Most individuals in the juvenile court system are accused of misdemeanors, such as vandalism, underage drinking, and shoplifting.

An “undisciplined” juvenile is one who skips school frequently, goes into places they shouldn’t be (i.e., bars), has been a runaway, and is outside the discipline of his or her parents, custodians or guardians.

Juvenile Justice

This is the name North Carolina gives to the division of the criminal justice system that deals with anyone under 15 that commits a criminal act. It also deals with 16- and 17-year olds who get into trouble. Most offenses can be expunged, sealing off the court record.

Court proceedings are handled in state district courts.

When a juvenile is accused of a crime, a citizen or law enforcement officer files a complaint, and a court counselor takes him or her through the intake process. The counselor evaluates the complaints and decides whether court action is warranted, or if community resources should be deployed. This takes between two and four weeks.

The counselor identifies the juvenile’s needs and matches him or her with community resources as needed, and can create a “diversion plan” with the parents.

A judge can also order probation, “diversion” (similar to probation, without a court appearance) and detention, which involves confinement. Detention is usually reserved for repeat offenders, and may require him or her to stay until the age of 21.

Once the restriction period and/or incarceration is successfully completed, some juvenile offenses can be expunged.

You can see a flowchart of the process that illustrates how this system works.

Tried As An Adult

Juveniles who commit felonies such as weapons possession, drug charges, alcohol/tobacco use or possession, assault and other crimes can be sent directly into the adult court system and tried there. Although the juvenile retains his or her right to legal counsel, there is no longer a right to privacy. The case will be made public for anyone over the age of 15, just as if the individual were over 21.

Raleigh Juvenile Defense

If your child has been arrested for breaking the law, you’ll need an attorney who understands the juvenile court system in Wake County to help you through the process and through court. Dewey P. Brinkley is a former Wake County Assistant District Attorney, and will aggressively defend your child in court against any charges, major or minor. Call today at 919-832-0307 to schedule your free consultation.

Raleigh Drug Charges: What It Means For Your Future

It was just a little bit. Not enough to really notice. But the police did. Now you’ve got some drug charges.

Now what?

drug charges can effect your future

From applying for a job or college, renting an apartment or a house, one drug charge can stop you from doing all these things most people do every day.

Marijuana Misdemeanor

North Carolina has not legalized marijuana, and still considers it a crime.

A “small amount,” less than a half-ounce, is called “simple possession of marijuana.” A Class 3 misdemeanor, you’ll pay a $200 fine, but probably not have jail time for your first offense. Higher amounts, up to 1.5 ounces, are a Class 1 misdemeanor, with up to 45 days in jail (or probation, if your attorney successfully argues for it.) If you have more than 1.5 ounces, up to 10 pounds, it’s a felony with jail time up to 12 months.

Schedule I and II Drug Charges

Controlled substances like cocaine, ecstasy, heroin and others carry felony charges, harsher penalties and higher jail sentences. Any amount in your possession will result in an automatic arrest with fines and jail terms. Drug trafficking and “maintaining a dwelling” (any facility used for warehousing and distribution) are also felonies with jail time.


If you are asked by a prospective employer, either in person, or on a job application, if you’ve ever been arrested, of course, you must say “yes” (unless you’ve had a legal expunction.) Background checks are cheap and easy to get, so most employers get them when you apply. Arrests and convictions show up immediately.

If you’re not asked in the application, you may be asked in an interview. Obviously, you must answer “yes,” or they will find out during the background check. Once they discover you’ve been arrested for drugs, they may decide not to continue talking to you, and you’ll have a harder time finding a job.

Employers want to hire people they can trust. Drug charges can severely limit your choice of vocations, even for a misdemeanor. Law enforcement, nursing, working with children (such as daycare or teaching) and any job requiring a CDL will not accept a candidate with a past history of drug arrests. You may also be turned down for active duty military service or the National Guard.

Mortgages and other loans

In many cases, drug charges cause immediate denial of credit for many kinds of loans. Lenders want to know that the loan will be repaid on time. As a convicted criminal, you will be considered a “high risk.” Mortgages, student loans, car loans, credit cards, and other types of lending will be unavailable  (or only at a very high rate of interest.)


Many landlords run credit and criminal background checks to potential tenants. Again, background checks are cheap and easy to get, so it wouldn’t take long for a landlord to discover your arrest. Most are looking for stable individuals who will pay rent on time and keep the property in reasonably good condition. Drug charges in your past will make any landlord anxious about renting to you, as well as your activities and ability to pay rent in a timely fashion.


Are you considering going to college?

While you may be able to get financial aid, you will be severely limited. Your financial aid may be suspended if your drug conviction happened while you were receiving aid. You’ll be asked to fill out a worksheet to determine your continued eligibility. You may re-apply after completing a drug treatment program.

Drug trafficking and “maintaining a dwelling” can disqualify you completely from student financial aid.

If you’re also applying to law or medical school, you must also disclose the arrest on your admissions  application. Drug charges may result in denial of your application.

Child Custody

If you’re involved in a difficult child custody battle with an ex, drug charges may cause a judge to reconsider your custody rights, even if an arrest did not lead to a conviction. Your drug arrest can be used as another reason to deny your parental rights, and possibly keep you from seeing your children. You may also be prohibited from adopting children.

Asset Forfeiture

Once you are convicted, you can lose your home, your car, as well as cash. North Carolina requires a conviction for criminal asset forfeiture. The state requires proceeds from criminal asset forfeiture to fund the public school systems.

Even A Misdemeanor Can Have Long-Term Consequences

Drug charges have the potential to cause problems for the rest of your life, whether they’re major or minor. Even though a misdemeanor is a “small thing” in the courts, it’s a very large red flag to anyone who is considering you for employment, as a tenant, or any number of other positions.

First-Time Charge Expunction

North Carolina allows some first-time offenders convicted of simple possession of marijuana to complete drug education training and/or community service to have their drug charge dismissed. Called a “conditional discharge,” you will be required to comply with a number of conditions.

Your attorney can later request an expunction after successful completion. A minor drug charge can be wiped from your record, won’t appear in a background check, and you can legally answer “no” when asked about criminal charges. You can only do this once, and subsequent charges and arrests may lead to jail time.

Dewey P. Brinkley Will Defend You Against Drug Charges

A criminal defense attorney experienced in drug cases can defend you in court and protect your assets. Contact our Raleigh law office today at (919) 832-0307 for a free consultation. Dewey P. Brinkley is a former Wake County prosecutor who will make sure your rights are rights are respected and you receive a fair trial under the law.

Raleigh Defense Attorney – Juvenile vs. Adult Criminal System

This is Part 11 of our weekly North Carolina Criminal Defense video blog: “Raleigh Defense Attorney – Juvenile vs. Adult Criminal System


The juvenile court system is really there to rehabilitate, whereas the adult criminal system is there to really punish. When you’re in juvenile delinquency court, the court system is trying to put programs in place for that juvenile to hopefully rehabilitate them so that once they turn 16, they don’t get into the adult system.

Raleigh Criminal Defense Lawyer – What is NC’s Definition of a Juvenile?

This is Part 10 of our weekly North Carolina Criminal Defense video blog: “Raleigh Criminal Defense Lawyer – What is NC’s Definition of a Juvenile?


A juvenile in North Carolina is defined as anyone who has committed a crime between the ages of six and up until before their sixteenth birthday. The minute you turn 16 in North Carolina, you become an adult for criminal purposes.

Raleigh Criminal Defense Lawyer Answers if a NC Juvenile Delinquent is a “Criminal”

This is Part 9 of our weekly North Carolina Criminal Defense video blog: “When is a NC Juvenile Delinquent is a “Criminal


They are not criminal charges at that point. Typically, what happens is the officer will take out a juvenile petition, and that juvenile could potentially be adjudicated as delinquent. It is not technically a criminal charge.

Raleigh Criminal Defense Lawyer – The Juvenile Criminal Process in North Carolina (Video)

This is Part 8 of our weekly North Carolina Criminal Defense video blog: “The Juvenile Criminal Process in North Carolina


Typically a juvenile will not be – it’s very rare that they will actually be arrested and taken into what we call secure custody. If it’s a misdemeanor or a relatively low level felony and that juvenile has not ever been in the juvenile court system before and doesn’t have the history of being in trouble most likely they won’t be arrested.

They will be noticed to come to court with their parents. If it’s a very serious felony or that juvenile has been in trouble several times, then the court can certainly issue what’s called a secure custody order and have that juvenile taken to a juvenile detention facility.

Raleigh NC Defense Lawyer – Court Petitions Against Juveniles (Video)

This is Part 7 of our weekly North Carolina Criminal Defense video blog: “Court Petitions Against Juveniles


Once the petition is filed, the juvenile will have a court date. They’re automatically assigned a lawyer here in North Carolina. Typically the Court Counselor’s Office will meet with that parent and that juvenile and after talking to the parent and talking to the juvenile, they will make certain recommendations to the court about what the disposition in the case should be.

If you have a child that really doesn’t need a lot of court involvement, they come from a good family, and they aren’t having problems in school that may be a situation where the Court Counselor’s Office strictly recommends probation.

If you have a juvenile who’s in need of services, then the Court Counselor’s Office is the one who make that recommendation to the judge.

Raleigh Defense Lawyer Answers, “Can a Juvenile Be Tried as an Adult?”

This is Part 5 of our weekly North Carolina Criminal Defense video blog: “Can a Juvenile Be Tried as an Adult?


If a juvenile is charged with first degree murder and probable cause is found in juvenile court for that murder case, it must, by statute, go to adult court.

First degree murder where probable cause is found will be handled in adult court. Felonies can be transferred to superior court upon a motion of the state once probable cause has been found in juvenile court. Oftentimes, that depends on whether the juvenile has received services in the juvenile system and either has not been rehabilitated or continues to reoffend and sometimes they will be tried as adults.

Wake County Juvenile Lawyer Answers, “Can You Choose Your Child’s Attorney?” (Video)

This is Part 4 of our weekly North Carolina Criminal Defense video blog: “Can You Choose Your Child’s Attorney?


The court assigns the attorney, so really, the parents and the juvenile don’t get to pick which attorney they want. A lot of times in juvenile court, we run into conflicts with the parents simply because the juvenile may want one outcome and the parent wants a different outcome. Our role in juvenile court is to advocate for that juvenile and the best interest of the juvenile, not what that parent wants to see happen in the case.

Raleigh Juvenile Lawyer – The Duration of a Juvenile Record (Video)

This is Part 1 of our weekly North Carolina Criminal Defense video blog: “Raleigh Juvenile Lawyer – The Duration of a Juvenile Record


I think the most important thing to know about juvenile court is that what happens in juvenile court is a sealed record. Unless it’s an extremely serious offense, those charges are not going to follow your son or daughter once they become adults. It’s a sealed record.

Only if it were an extremely serious felony would it potentially follow them once they turn 16. Again, juvenile court is there to try and help that child succeed in school and at home so that hopefully, once they become adults, they’re not in the jail and they’re not back in trouble.