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
Were the constitutional rights of defendants who were prosecuted as adults in criminal court for offenses that they committed at ages 16 or 17, and prior to December 1, 2019, violated because the jurisdictional changes under raise the age were not retroactive? The North Carolina Court of Appeals does not think so. The decision in State v. Garrett, 2021-NCCOA-591, answers this question. Continue reading →
A new Juvenile Law Bulletin, Transfer of Juvenile Delinquency Cases to Superior Court, is now available. Transfer is the procedure used to move a case that begins as a delinquency matter under the original jurisdiction of the juvenile court to criminal court for trial as an adult. The Bulletin outlines when transfer is allowed, and sometimes required; the varying procedures to use to transfer a case based on age at offense and the offense charged; procedure to follow once transfer is ordered; the remand process; place of confinement; and issues related to the appeal process. This blog provides some highlights of the information in the Bulletin. Continue reading →
This is the third in a series of blogs about the changes contained in Session Law 2021-123. It summarizes the new requirement for court ordered mental health assessments, including a new care review team process. (see Raise the Age Legislative Changes and From 6 to 10: New Minimum Age for Juvenile Delinquency and Undisciplined Jurisdiction for previous blogs about the other provisions in S.L. 2021-123).
A steady stream of appellate caselaw, beginning with In re E.M., 263 N.C.App. 476 (2019), established that G.S.7B-2502(c) requires the trial court to refer a juvenile who is adjudicated delinquent to the local management entity (LME) prior to ordering a disposition when there is any amount of evidence that the juvenile has a mental illness. The purpose of the referral is for the LME to conduct an interdisciplinary evaluation and mobilize resources. Beginning with petitions filed on December 1, 2021, this statutory mandate is changing. The court will be required to order mental health assessments under different circumstances and, in some cases, to order a care review team after the assessment is completed. Continue reading →
Parts I – IV of Session Law 2021-123 make changes to the statutory structure that raised the age of juvenile jurisdiction to include most offenses committed at ages 16 and 17. The most significant changes relate to new prosecutorial discretion to decline to transfer cases in which the most serious charge is a Class D – Class G felony and the ability to extend the length of jurisdiction when a juvenile is committed to a Youth Development Center (YDC) for a Class A – Class E felony committed at age 16 or 17. The raise the age changes in S.L. 2021-123 are detailed below. Continue reading →
Session Law 2021-123 includes several significant changes to the law that governs juvenile delinquency cases. This post will describe one of those changes—an increase in the minimum age for delinquency and undisciplined cases. As I write this post, that age is set at 6 years old. G.S. 7B-1501(7)a., -1501(27)a. Beginning with offenses committed on or after December 1, 2021, the minimum age for most acts of delinquency and for all undisciplined behaviors will be 10 years old. S.L. 2021-123 § 5.(b). This change comes with limited exceptions that provide for delinquency jurisdiction for some offenses committed at ages 8 and 9, a new procedure for juvenile justice to work with children between the ages of 6 and 10 through a juvenile consultation process, and new law related to the role of parents in juvenile consultation matters. This post walks through each of these components. Continue reading →
As students across North Carolina head back to school, it is a good time to review the law that governs notifying schools about juvenile delinquency cases. Prior to raise the age, notification of charges for high school students required an understanding of the requirements under both the Juvenile Code for delinquency cases and the Criminal Code for cases in which students were accused of crimes committed at ages 16 and 17. Now, under the post-raise the age statutory structure of juvenile jurisdiction, the Juvenile Code requirements will govern nearly all school notifications.
Here are the headlines:
- school notification can only be made by a juvenile court counselor to the school principal and under the specific circumstances outlined in the Juvenile Code, and
- the information disclosed must remain confidential and may only be used by the school in the limited way allowed for by the law.
The Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act and its subsequent corresponding legislation raised the age of juvenile jurisdiction to 18 for most offenses committed at ages 16 or 17 that would otherwise be crimes. S.L. 2017-57, §§ 16.D.4.(a)-16.D.4.(tt) and S.L. 2019-186. Last summer, the legislature enacted changes to the criminal law to ensure that minors who fall outside of raise the age and continue to be tried as adults are not housed in adult jails. S.L. 2020-83, §§ 8.(a)-8.(p). While it may feel like these changes must mean that the age of 18 is now consistently the legal demarcation for being treated as an adult, the law continues to use the age of 16 as a defining line in some instances. For example, Chapter 50B (Domestic Violence) and Chapter 50C (Civil No-Contact Orders) continue to provide that domestic violence protective orders (DVPOs) and Civil No-Contact Orders can be obtained against youth once they reach the age of 16. This blog addresses how enforcement of these orders against youth who are ages 16 and 17 is affected by raise the age and by the removal of minors from jails. Continue reading →
My email continues to stay busy with confusion about juvenile cases, including questions about the status of a case during the time for appeal of an order transferring the case to superior court and the use of an indictment to trigger transfer of a juvenile matter to superior court. This blog will address three frequently asked questions (FAQs): (1) which court has jurisdiction over the case during the 10-day period for giving notice of an appeal, (2) what are the restrictions on recordkeeping during that 10-day period or while the superior court considers any appeal, and (3) may an order for arrest be generated when an indictment is returned in a matter that is under juvenile jurisdiction? Continue reading →
Does the court have authority over parents of juveniles who are respondents in delinquency matters once the juvenile turns 18? This question has come up repeatedly as practitioners across North Carolina continue to implement the Juvenile Jurisdiction Reinvestment Act (JJRA), the law that brought the vast majority of youth who commit offenses at ages 16 and 17 under juvenile court jurisdiction. The short answer is—yes. However, that fact does not mean that this jurisdictional law is without complications. This blog explains why the new jurisdictional laws have led to increased numbers of 18- and 19-year-olds under juvenile court jurisdiction, the court’s authority over the parents of those youth, and complications related to this jurisdictional authority over parents of people who are legally adults. Continue reading →