North Carolina is no longer the only state in the U.S. that automatically prosecutes juveniles as adults beginning at age 16. In June, the General Assembly ended a century long practice of prosecuting teens as adults by enacting the Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act as part of the 2017 state budget, which raised the age of criminal responsibility to 18. As a result, most 16 and 17-year-olds will be prosecuted in juvenile court beginning December 1, 2019. There are, however, some exceptions. Here’s what you should know about this historic reform. Continue Reading
Update: On June 5, 2017, the NC Supreme Court allowed the state’s motion for a temporary stay of the Court of Appeals’ opinion in T.K., which indicates that further appellate review is possible. Pursuant to NC Rules of Appellate Procedure 15(b) and 32(b), the state has until June 20, 2017, to file a petition for discretionary review of the Court of Appeals’ opinion.Continue Reading
Every June after celebrating Father’s Day, district court judges throughout the state head to Wrightsville Beach for their annual summer conference. Normally, I get to tag along to give them a legal update on recent juvenile delinquency cases and legislation enacted since their fall conference. However, with less than a handful of published delinquency cases decided since the fall and no new legislation, I thought I’d miss this one. To my surprise, they wanted to hear about a different juvenile law topic – The School to Prison Pipeline (or STPP) – a somewhat controversial topic to discuss with judges because it’s more about policy than law. Here’s what I told them in the most neutral, non-advocacy way possible. Continue Reading
A growing number of teens in NC and across the nation are facing criminal charges for sexting.
A few months ago, I wrote a blog post about a Fayetteville case involving two teens charged with felony child pornography for sending naked selfies to each other. The teens in that case, a boyfriend and girlfriend, ultimately pled guilty to misdemeanors (disseminating harmful material to minors) and their cases will be dismissed if they successfully complete a one-year term of probation under a deferred prosecution agreement. New sexting cases are reportedly being investigated in Wake County at two separate high schools, one of which may involve extortion. Based on my recent advising requests, other counties are also dealing with sexting issues in their schools. The offending students often end up with felony charges, at least initially, for behavior which one recent study suggests is a fairly common practice among U.S. teens. The question is how should the state respond?