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.
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.
Many juvenile cases are resolved through admissions (known as guilty pleas in criminal court), often with the prosecutor’s agreement to reduce the charge. Sometimes, the reduced charge is a lesser-included offense of the original offense charged in the petition, such as changing common law robbery to misdemeanor larceny. See State v. White, 142 N.C. App. 201, 204 (2001). But, often, a reduced charge is not a lesser-included offense, like changing sexual battery to simple assault. See State v. Corbett, 196 N.C. App. 508, 511 (2009). The question then becomes: How can the State proceed on a different offense than the one charged in the petition? Can the prosecutor prepare a misdemeanor statement of charges as in criminal court? Or, is a new petition required? Here are the answers.