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How long after an incident can someone press charges if you're a minor?

Winston-salem, NC |

The other female got in my face, proceeded to tell me how pathetic and messed up I was, took a few steps back, and then went to come at me. I rared back my fist and she turned her head, resulting in a blow to the back of the head. She then continued to come at me, and before I hit her again, the fight was broken up. Later that day she texted me multiple times telling me to "Wait until school on Monday," and that she was considering pressing charges. There were witnesses that can prove that I was provoked and she invaded my personal space, leaving me feeling threatened. Answers are greatly appreciated ASAP! Thanks.

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Attorney answers 3


Charges in such an incident, unless the incident was witnessed by an officer, are instituted by the victim going to the magistrate and telling their story. The magistrate then has the authority to institute charges. The magistrate also has a large amount of discretion as to whether to institute charges. The passage of time since the incident is one factor that the magistrate will likely consider in whether to institute charges. The longer the time between the incident and when the person goes to the magistrate, the less likely that the magistrate is to issue charges. The statute of limitations for misdemeanors is two years. If the magistrate issues charges, you will be served by the police with a criminal summons, which will tell you when to appear in court. You should consider hiring a criminal law attorney if you are served with the summons.

This answer is designed for general information only. The information presented should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor to be the formation of an attorney/client relationship. This answer addresses only one specific aspect of criminal charges. Please contact an attorney if you need further information.


2 years.

After that the statute of limitations prevents the charges from being initiated. However, as more time passes, it becomes less and less likely that a magistrate would allow someone to swear out a warrant.

If you would like to improve your changes to beat such a charge (if one is brought), you can consider collecting statements now from the witnesses who would support your version of the events. It would be best if you could get those statements notarized, but just getting them to write the statements or even getting them to make the statements on video would go a long way to protect you.

Alternatively, you might consider bringing charges yourself. The person who was coming at you was committing an assault. The fact that you made contact in defending yourself and she did not is no bar to your bringing charges IF you can convince the magistrate that that is what happened. Again, the statements of witnesses can make the difference.


The statute of limitations for misdemeanors is two years. If you were under the age of 16 when this occurred, the complaining witness would go to the Juvenile Court Counselor's Office and fill out a petition. Then a Juvenile Court Counselor would review the petition to determine if an actionable offense had been committed. If so, the Juvenile Court Counselor would decide whether to divert the offense to a community program or file the petition and begin court proceedings in Juvenile Court. If a petition is filed, the Court will automatically appoint an attorney for you as juveniles (children under the age of 16) are deemed to be indigent.

Opinions given through this website are not deemed to be legal advice and no attorney-client relationship has been formed as a result of an attorney answering a question on this website.