As we all come to terms with the new reality of social distancing and a global pandemic, the potential health risks for youth and staff in secure custody settings is cause for concern. Staff in a New York City juvenile detention center have already tested positive for COVID-19. The North Carolina Department of Public Safety has suspended visitation and volunteer activities at all juvenile justice facilities. Currently legal visits for juveniles in secure custody are still allowed. These heightened concerns about secure confinement of youth raise questions about whether and how ongoing secure custody hearings can happen in our current environment and what alternatives exist to both preserve public safety and prevent use of the congregate juvenile detention setting as much as possible. This blog will discuss when hearings on continued secure custody must be held, even in light of the emergency directive; important considerations if those hearings are conducted remotely; and the range of release options available to the court. Continue reading
I continue to receive questions about transferring from juvenile to criminal superior court cases involving allegations that 16-and 17-year-olds have engaged in certain criminal conduct. Recently I’ve been asked about the transfer process for offenses committed at ages 16 and 17 in cases that involve a series of charges that include Class A – G felonies, Class H and I felonies, and misdemeanors. Because the Juvenile Code prescribes differing procedures for transferring various classes of felonies and there is no transfer process for misdemeanor offenses, confusion is understandable. The key to understanding how to handle these cases is this: Once one felony is transferred, all other related charges, regardless of offense class, are automatically brought under the jurisdiction of the superior court. Why? Continue reading →
The capacity to transfer a juvenile matter to superior court as a result of the return of an indictment was added to the Juvenile Code as part of the law changes that raised the age of juvenile court jurisdiction. S.L. 2017-57 §16D.4.(e) as amended by S.L. 2019-186 §8.a. Never before had the indictment process been connected to delinquency matters in juvenile court. This new structure requires a finding in the juvenile matter after an indictment has been returned. It raises a range of questions about procedure and confidentiality. This post will review when indictment can be used to trigger the transfer process, highlight what is known and not known about the procedure that must accompany the new use of indictment in delinquency matters, and address the question of confidentiality of an indictment that is used to form the basis of a judicial finding in juvenile court. Continue reading →
North Carolina sits four days away from implementation of the most significant change to juvenile court jurisdiction since the inception of the juvenile delinquency system 100 years ago. Beginning on December 1, 2019, most offenses alleged to have been committed by 16- and 17-year-olds will begin under juvenile jurisdiction. G.S. 7B-1501(7)b, G.S. 7B-1604(b). This change will shift the procedures that law enforcement must follow when processing 16- and 17-year-olds for these now juvenile offenses from criminal procedures to juvenile procedures. The good news, as Jeff Ledford, Chief of Police in Shelby, N.C., put it—if an officer knows how to take a 13-year-old into custody today, that officer knows how to take a 16- or 17-year-old into custody on December 1st. This blog provides three key tips for law enforcement to follow and links to a short training video and job aid developed specifically for law enforcement training on raise the age. Continue reading →
Training efforts to support implementation of the Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act, or “raise the age,” are in full swing. With the December 1, 2019 implementation date drawing near, I have had the pleasure of teaching about the new law at many fall conferences and at five regional workshops. Common questions have been raised across these venues. This blog contains answers to some of those commonly asked questions as well as information on how to access further training and resources. Continue reading →
Believe it or not, there is new juvenile delinquency law to wrap your head around other than the Juvenile Jurisdiction Reinvestment Act, which will raise the age of juvenile court jurisdiction as of December 1, 2019. The 2019 legislative session resulted in several new laws related to juvenile delinquency cases that
- change the capacity to access teen court,
- establish new rules regarding photographing of some juveniles at the time of a show-up,
- create parental access to counsel in the context of Department of Social Services (DSS) placements as delinquency and undisciplined dispositions,
- establish new information sharing capacity between attorneys representing juveniles in child welfare and juvenile justice matters, and
- ease requirements for victims of human trafficking to access a juvenile expunction.
There is also an entirely new Article added to Chapter 7B of the General Statutes devoted to the rights of victims of delinquent acts. I will provide an overview of the delinquency-related provisions of the newly enacted legislation below. You can also access a bulleted summary of the 2019 enacted delinquency legislation on the juvenile law microsite. Several of these new statutes touch on other areas of law, such as child welfare and criminal procedure. Those provisions are outside the scope of this blog post and the bulleted summary. Continue reading →
Session Law 2019-186, enacted on August 1, 2019, put the finishing touches on the new law that will raise the age of juvenile court jurisdiction in North Carolina beginning on December 1, 2019. The modifications include clarification on which offense will remain outside of juvenile court jurisdiction, an expanded timeline for probable cause hearings in some instances, and a new option to remand some cases that have been transferred to superior court back to district court for juvenile processing. If you are feeling a bit overwhelmed or confused by raise the age, fear not. A raise the age workshop is coming to an area near you this fall. Stick with me to the end of this blog and you will find links to get to the registration page. Continue reading →
Have you ever been deeply enmeshed in a project, thought it was done, and when you returned with fresh eyes realized that you missed something important? That has happened for me when, for example, I painted the walls of my son’s bedroom only to walk in the next day with fresh eyes and realize that I should have painted the trim as well. And then it happened again as I was working on a chapter in the forthcoming Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act Implementation Guide and realized that there is an amendment contained in the Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act (JJRA), that will take effect on December 1, 2019, that changes one piece of the recently released Juvenile Law Bulletin, Delinquency and DSS Custody without Abuse, Neglect, or Dependency: How Does that Work?. The change limits the court’s authority to order DSS custody as a component of a delinquency disposition, allowing this disposition only for juveniles under the age of 18. This limiting language creates a clear age boundary for an initial order of disposition to DSS custody in a delinquency case. However, questions remain regarding the capacity for a juvenile to remain in DSS custody pursuant to a delinquency dispositional order after turning 18. Continue reading →
My colleague, Sara DePasquale, and I were excited to release a new Juvenile Law Bulletin two weeks ago—Delinquency and DSS Custody without Abuse, Neglect, or Dependency: How Does that Work? We were also exhausted. While the laws that allow for courts to order juveniles into DSS custody in a delinquency proceeding are short, their implications are broad and complex. Sara’s blog announcing the bulletin, Extra! Extra! Read All About It! New Juvenile Law Bulletin – Delinquency and DSS Custody without Abuse, Neglect, or Dependency: How Does that Work?, provides some suggestions about reading the bulletin in bite-sized chunks. Now that readers have had a chance to do that, let’s focus on a few of the key points for delinquency practitioners.
- the proceeding remains a delinquency proceeding although the juvenile is in the custody of DSS;
- the only attorney who will represent a juvenile placed in DSS custody through a delinquency proceeding is the juvenile’s counsel in the delinquency matter;
- termination of probation does not automatically terminate DSS custody; and
- implementation of the Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act (a.k.a. “raise the age”) could result in a new challenge for DSS placements.
I have had the pleasure of working here at the School of Government for eight months now. In that time I have gotten some interesting questions about North Carolina’s delinquency laws. Most often, those questions relate to the confidentiality of juvenile court records. When I first read the statute – G.S. 7B-3000 – I thought it was an open and shut case. Unless you are on the list of people allowed access without a court order, access can only be allowed pursuant to a court order. But then the questions started to come in. Who exactly is the juvenile’s attorney under this statute? Can any prosecutor access juvenile records any time? Can a federal court order disclosure of a North Carolina juvenile record? On what basis can courts order release of juvenile records? It turns out that it’s not open and shut at all. Here is what I have learned so far. Continue reading →