Imagine a case involving a juvenile who lives in North Carolina and is in secure custody because of a charge of an act of delinquency in New York comes across your desk. You look to the Juvenile Code to read the statute that governs interstate issues. You find Article 40 of Chapter 7B, “Interstate Compact for Juveniles.” But, after reading Article 40, you realize that there is no statutory guidance regarding the actual procedure in the case. Where do you turn? The law regarding interstate matters in juvenile justice cases is perhaps the best kept secret in juvenile law. The actual substance can only be found in the Rules promulgated by the Interstate Commission for Juveniles.
One of the central differences between delinquency matters and criminal matters is that juvenile records are not subject to public inspection. This includes juvenile court records (G.S. 7B-3000(b)); all law enforcement records and files concerning juveniles, unless jurisdiction has been transferred to superior court (G.S. 7B-3001(b)); and all records and files maintained by the Division of Juvenile Justice (G.S. 7B-3001(c)). Part II of Session Law 2023-114 adds a new G.S. 7B-3103 to the Juvenile Code to establish a limited exception to the confidentiality of juvenile records. It allows the release of juvenile information to the public under certain circumstances. This new law applies to offenses committed on or after December 1, 2023.
This post covers recent statutory changes related to the custodial interrogation of youth who are 16 and 17 years of age and to the issuance and execution of secure custody orders in delinquency cases. All of these changes are contained in Session law 2023-114 and will apply to offenses committed on or after December 1, 2023.
Session Law 2023-114 includes many provisions that change the law governing delinquency cases. This is the first in a three-part series of blogs detailing those changes. It covers the changes to the laws that govern transfer of cases to superior court for trial as an adult and the mandate to assess mental health needs before disposition through the comprehensive clinical assessment (CCA) and care review processes. All of the S.L. 2023-114 changes described in this blog will apply to offenses committed on or after December 1, 2023.
One of the more common questions I receive about the transfer of a case from juvenile jurisdiction to the jurisdiction of the superior court for trial as an adult is whether transfer can be ordered based on consent of the juvenile. The issue seems to cross my desk when a juvenile has some charges pending in criminal court and there are unrelated felony charges pending under juvenile jurisdiction. The short answer is no. The statutory structure that governs transfer does not allow for ordering transfer based on consent. Why?
Delinquency adjudications and criminal convictions of minors who have been transferred to Superior Court for trial as adults both require that the elements of the offense charged are proved beyond a reasonable doubt, including that the required criminal state of mind, or mens rea, existed. The adolescent mind has been the subject of substantial scientific research. This research grounded several United State Supreme Court decisions related to criminal punishment of minors and when Miranda warnings are necessary. However, the question of how the science of adolescent brain development does or does not connect to the mens rea requirements of various offenses is not well litigated. The North Carolina Court of Appeals dipped a toe in this area in its recent ruling in State v. Smith, __ N.C. App. __ (June 6, 2023).
The investigation of offenses subject to juvenile jurisdiction requires an understanding of how the law regarding juvenile investigations varies from the law that governs criminal investigations. I am happy to share Juvenile Law Related to the Investigation of Delinquent Acts, a new Juvenile Law Bulletin that details laws unique to juvenile investigations. This blog provides some highlights from the search and seizure section of the Bulletin.
The current news seems to be full of reports of threats against schools. A search of the WRAL website for stories on school threats reveals at least five discrete stories on threats against North Carolina schools in May alone. How can schools and law enforcement be prepared to respond to, and perhaps even prevent, threats against student safety? The National Threat Assessment Center of the United States Secret Service (NTAC) has been researching that topic for over 20 years. The results are consistent. Schools that have an effective threat assessment structure in place, casting a wide net to effectively identify youth along a continuum of need and offering a range of responses, are best positioned to address threats and prevent school violence.
Determination of the correct disposition level available in a delinquency case requires a four-step process.
- Identify the offense for which disposition is being entered (hereinafter referred to as the “disposition offense”).
- Identify the offense classification for the disposition offense.
- Calculate the juvenile’s delinquency history level.
- Use the disposition chart to identify the corresponding level or levels for the case.
The short answer is no. There is no specific legal requirement to enter a disposition in a delinquency matter in a certain period of time. At the same time, the law does provide some context on moving efficiently to disposition, including the ability, in certain circumstances, to appeal an adjudication before a disposition has been entered. This blog explains that context.