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.