One of the unique features of the juvenile justice system is its statutory focus on identifying the needs of juveniles and resolving matters to provide “appropriate rehabilitative services to juveniles.” G.S. 7B-1500(2)b. In addition to protecting public safety, dispositions should include “an appropriate plan to meet the needs of the juvenile.” G.S. 7B-2500. The caselaw and statutes that govern one form of assessment in delinquency cases—the comprehensive clinical assessment (CCA)—have undergone rapid change in the last few years. Other assessments, such as assessment for problematic sexual behavior or trauma-focused assessments, may also be needed in certain cases. Questions abound regarding when assessments can occur and what confidentiality law applies to them. This new infographic provides a high-level overview of the law that addresses these questions.Continue reading
Is it legally permissible to adjudicate a juvenile delinquent based on that juvenile’s violation of an order for protective supervision in an undisciplined matter? The North Carolina Court of Appeals says yes. The court upheld the practice of adjudicating a juvenile delinquent following an admission to indirect contempt related to violation of an order issued in an undisciplined case in In re B.W.C., 2022-NCCOA-590 (September 6, 2022). This post details the court’s holding and explores ramifications of the decision. Continue reading →
What circumstances constitute custodial interrogation in a school setting? Who counts as a guardian or custodian for the purpose of a custodial interrogation of a juvenile? Under what circumstances can a juvenile waive their rights that attach during a custodial interrogation? A new Juvenile Law Bulletin on Juvenile Interrogation is now available as a School of Government publication. The Bulletin details the applicable law that addresses these questions and other issues related to the custodial interrogation of juveniles. You can access it by clicking on the link above.
How does a case proceed when a juvenile is charged with a homicide offense? In classic lawyer fashion, the answer is that it depends. In almost all instances, the case will begin as a juvenile matter. However, the path the case follows once the juvenile case begins, and whether the case is ultimately adjudicated as a juvenile matter or prosecuted as a criminal matter, depends on the age of the juvenile at the time of the offense and the specific offense charged. Continue reading →
The legal requirement for sight and sound separation between juveniles and adult inmates states that “juveniles alleged to be or found to be delinquent or juveniles within the purview of paragraph (11) will not be detained or confined in any institution in which they have sight or sound contact with adult inmates.” 34 U.S.C.A. §11133(a)(12)(A). It may be somewhat intuitive to understand how this requirement applies in settings where adults are detained for long periods of time—such as jails and lockups. The application of this requirement in court holding facilities may be less intuitive. This post explains how sight and sound separation applies in the context of the courthouse. Continue reading →
The 2022 Annual Report from the North Carolina Child Fatality Task Force (CFTF) highlights a significant increase in firearm-related deaths among North Carolina’s youth. The CFTF Annual Report, submitted in May of 2022, details child fatalities that occurred in North Carolina in 2020. According to the CFTF, rates for suicides, homicides, and firearm deaths for children in North Carolina all increased in 2020. CFTF Annual Report, p. 2. Firearms were used in 12 of the 20 suicides reported among youth ages 10 – 14 and in 19 of the 35 suicides reported among youth ages 15 – 17. All 11 of the homicides reported against youth ages 10 – 14 involved a firearm and 48 of the 50 homicides reported against youth ages 15 – 17 involved a firearm. Table 1, CFTF Annual Report. Suicide was the leading cause of death among youth ages 10 – 14 and homicide was the leading cause of death among youth ages 15 – 17. Table 2, CFTF Annual Report.
These numbers reflect an increasing trend of firearm-related deaths among youth. While there were 525 firearm-related youth deaths between 2011 and 2020, 105 firearm-related youth deaths were recorded in 2020 alone. CFTF Annual Report, p. 18.
Is this trend rooted in more violent firearm usage by youth? The suicide data clearly reflects youth use of firearms to kill themselves. Do the homicide numbers reflect youth shooting other youth? Data from the Division of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (DJJDP) may shed some light on that question. Continue reading →
One of the many unique features of the juvenile justice system is the law related to the permissible uses of detention. Called secure custody in the Juvenile Code, placement of a juvenile in detention is permitted only when specifically authorized by statute. This post reviews the legally allowable circumstances for the use of juvenile detention. If the situation of a particular juvenile does not match any of these circumstances, then the juvenile cannot be ordered to be held in a detention facility. Note that detention applies only to juveniles who are the subject of delinquency or undisciplined proceedings and is never permitted in an abuse, neglect, or dependency action. Continue reading →
Last month the Court of Appeals held in In re J.A.D., 2022-NCCOA-259, that the findings in an adjudication order were deficient because they did not include an affirmative statement by the court, beyond the pre-printed language on the form, that the allegations in the petition were proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Given the minimal legal requirements for delinquency adjudication orders, drafting them can sometimes feel like a largely ministerial duty. However, this appellate decision is a good reminder that adjudication orders in delinquency cases must contain certain essential findings of fact. Continue reading →
Comprehensive clinical assessments (CCA’s) are frequently completed—and sometimes required—prior to ordering a disposition in a delinquency matter. G.S. 7B-2502(a2). You can find more information about when the statutory requirement is triggered in a previous blog. CCA’s contain information about the juvenile’s mental health and they may also contain information about substance use disorder treatment. These kinds of information are covered by federal confidentiality laws that are not specifically addressed by the Juvenile Code. While the federal laws generally prohibit disclosure absent a valid patient authorization, courts can order disclosure after following the required procedure and making certain findings. The North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts (NCAOC) recently released new and revised forms that are structured to provide the court access to CCA’s while complying with the requirements of federal confidentiality laws. This post explains why and how to use the new and revised forms. Continue reading →
The Juvenile Code requires the court to select the most appropriate disposition for the delinquent juvenile. G.S. 7B-2501(c). Under this statute, the disposition must be designed to protect the public and to meet the needs and best interests of the juvenile based on offense severity, the need for accountability, the importance of protecting public safety, the juvenile’s degree of culpability, and the rehabilitative and treatment needs of the juvenile. There are many different statutory pathways available to the court to structure individualized dispositions targeted to meet the needs of the juvenile and reduce their risk of reoffending. This post explores some of those options, with an emphasis on alternatives outside of standard terms and conditions for probation or placement in out-of-home settings. Continue reading →