Governor Roy Cooper vetoes bill that would have modified ‘Raise the Age’ law

CHARLOTTE — Governor Roy Cooper has vetoed a bill that would modify the state’s Raise the Age law. The bill passed with bipartisan support.

Right now, 16 and 17-year-olds are charged as juveniles. Depending on the seriousness of the charge, they can be transferred to adult court, but the process can be lengthy.

House Bill 834 would allow 16 and 17-year-olds to be charged as adults when accused of committing certain crimes. The new bill would return to the previous policy of charging teens automatically as adults for violent crimes that include murder, second-degree murder, rape, sex assault, armed robbery, and assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill.

Governor Roy Cooper vetoed the bill late Friday night.

“Most violent crimes, even when committed by teenagers, should be handled in adult court. However, there are cases where sentences would be more effective and appropriate to the severity of the crime for teenagers if they were handed in juvenile court, making communities safer,” Governor Roy Cooper said in a statement. “This bill makes this important option highly unlikely and begins to erode our bipartisan Raise the Age law we agreed to four years ago.

Governor Roy Cooper said he is concerned the new law would keep children from getting treatment and he called on the legislature to invest more in the juvenile justice system instead.

On Tuesday, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Johnny Jennings said he disagreed with the veto.

“The Governor’s decision to veto HB 834 is a disappointing development. This legislation was a crucial step in protecting the safety and well-being of our most vulnerable citizens – our juveniles,” Jennings said in a statement. “I firmly believe that with continued effort and public dialogue, we can find a resolution that addresses the Governor’s concerns while still upholding the core principles outlined in the legislation. While this is an ongoing challenge, we will continue our work together to create a safer environment for everyone.”

The bill now returns to the General Assembly, where lawmakers can vote to override the veto.

VIDEO: Bill that would modify ‘Raise the Age’ law heads to NC governor’s desk

Comments on this article