Bill would stop prosecuting 16-, 17-year-olds in adult court

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- North Carolina is one of just two states where 16- and 17-year-olds are automatically prosecuted in adult court, but that could soon change.

Momentum is growing for legislation to handle most of those North Carolina teens in juvenile court.

Bipartisan legislation was announced Wednesday to end the automatic adult prosecution of 16- and 17-year-olds accused of misdemeanors and non-violent felonies.

Similar bills have been filed before, but they haven't become law. This time, a commission created by the state's chief justice has recommended the change. Law enforcement is also supporting the "raise the age" proposal.

Supporters say it would prevent young people from being branded for life with adult convictions for misdeeds that stem from youthful immaturity.

The other state that automatically prosecutes teens as adults is New York.

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