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?
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.
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.
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.