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.
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?
The Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act (JJRA), which raised the age of juvenile court jurisdiction to include youth who commit offenses at ages 16 and 17, went into effect on December 1, 2019. What impacts have been realized in the juvenile justice system as a result? The Juvenile Jurisdiction Advisory Committee (JJAC), created by the JJRA, submitted its required interim report to the General Assembly on January 15, 2021. The report provides many details about the first year of implementation as well as JJAC recommendations for legislative amendments and ongoing budgetary needs. This blog provides a summary of some of the trends during the first year of raise the age implementation as detailed in the report.
How does the appointment of counsel to represent juveniles with cases that are transferred to superior court for trial as adults work? This can be a confusing question to answer given that the legal authority for the appointment of counsel changes at the time of transfer, there are important immediate legal issues following transfer, and there are so many different ways in which indigent defense services are provided across North Carolina. This blog will (1) identify the law that governs appointment of counsel when cases are in juvenile court and following transfer, (2) share recently released guidance from the N.C. Office of Indigent Defense Services (IDS) regarding appointment of counsel in matters that are transferred, and (3) suggest a procedure that could be followed to ensure that the rights of juveniles regarding appeals of transfer orders and conditions of pretrial release are ensured.
Two changes in the law have led to a new phenomenon—the need for youth under the age of 18 to satisfy conditions of pretrial release while being confined in a juvenile detention facility. First, the Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act (JJRA) raised the age of juvenile court jurisdiction for offenses committed at ages 16 and 17 on or after December 1, 2019. The JJRA includes a broad mandatory transfer provision, requiring that many felony matters shift from juvenile to superior court jurisdiction. G.S. 7B-2200.5(a). When that happens, the rules of criminal procedure (including those governing pretrial release) apply rather than the rules for juvenile cases. Second, Part II of Session Law 2020-83 required that the few minors who continue to be processed as adults in the criminal system from the outset of their cases be held in juvenile detention instead of adult jails. The release of minors subject to criminal rather than juvenile jurisdiction is governed by the usual criminal process for setting and satisfying conditions for pretrial release. Those conditions sometimes require posting a bond. But juvenile detention facilities are not equipped to process bonds. So how does this work? This post will review the circumstances in which a youth confined in juvenile detention may need to post bond, the impediments to doing so, and potential ways to address those problems.
I continue to receive questions about transferring from juvenile to criminal superior court cases involving allegations that 16-and 17-year-olds have engaged in certain criminal conduct. Recently I’ve been asked about the transfer process for offenses committed at ages 16 and 17 in cases that involve a series of charges that include Class A – G felonies, Class H and I felonies, and misdemeanors. Because the Juvenile Code prescribes differing procedures for transferring various classes of felonies and there is no transfer process for misdemeanor offenses, confusion is understandable. The key to understanding how to handle these cases is this: Once one felony is transferred, all other related charges, regardless of offense class, are automatically brought under the jurisdiction of the superior court. Why?