Archive

Tag: delinquent juvenile
  • The Juvenile Court Counselor’s Role As Gatekeeper

    With the passage of “Raise the Age” legislation this year, juvenile justice officials, the court system, law enforcement agencies, and various other state officials are busy planning and preparing for the implementation of this major policy change which will become effective December 1, 2019 (see this prior blog post). One of the issues raised by juvenile court counselors is whether their authority to approve juvenile petitions will be impacted by the mandatory transfer to adult court of 16 and 17-year-olds who commit Class A-G felonies. The short answer is no. Here’s why.

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  • Incapacity to Proceed and Juveniles

    Two days ago, Franklin County prosecutors dismissed a murder charge against an 18-year-old male who allegedly admitted to decapitating his mother because “he felt like it.” The case made national headlines back in March when it was reported that the teen emerged from the home holding a butcher knife in one hand and his mother’s head in the other when officers arrived on the scene. According to this article, the trial court recently found that the teen lacked capacity to proceed after he was examined by mental health professionals at Central Regional Hospital in Butner. This post discusses what it means for a juvenile to lack capacity to proceed and why it not only bars a criminal prosecution, but also, prohibits delinquency proceedings against a juvenile.

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  • Ordering Restitution In A Juvenile Delinquency Case

    A district court judge may require a juvenile to pay restitution to a victim as part of the juvenile’s disposition. The court’s authority to order restitution depends on the juvenile’s disposition level and whether the amount of restitution is supported by evidence in the record. The restitution order also must be supported by sufficient findings of fact. This post outlines the required findings and other rules that apply to juvenile restitution orders.

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  • Extended YDC Commitments and the 30-Day Notice Requirement

    Beginning at age 10, juveniles may be committed to the Division of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice for placement in a youth development center (YDC), a locked residential facility that “provide[s] long-term treatment, education, and rehabilitative services” to delinquent youth. G.S. 7B-1501(29). When a district court judge commits a juvenile to a YDC, the judge must determine the maximum period of time the juvenile may remain committed before the Division must either release the juvenile or provide notice under G.S. 7B-2515 of its decision to extend the juvenile’s commitment to continue rehabilitative efforts. This post explains how to determine a juvenile’s maximum commitment period and the requirements for extending the commitment beyond this period.

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  • Due Process Rights and Children: Fifty Years of In re Gault – Part Five, the Privilege Against Self-Incrimination

    Juvenile defenders, the court system, the governor, and other advocates recently celebrated a historic moment in juvenile justice. Monday was the 50th Anniversary of the In re Gault decision, which guaranteed juveniles the right to due process in delinquency proceedings. In honor of the event, this multiple part series on due process has explored the history of Gault and how it transformed juvenile court by ensuring that juveniles have the right to notice, the right to counsel, and the right to confrontation and cross-examination. This final post discusses the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination and the protection it provides to juveniles, assuming they understand what it means and know how to assert it.

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  • N.C. Court of Appeals: Disposition Orders Do Not Require Written Findings on the G.S. 7B-2501(c) Factors

    In multiple cases, the Court of Appeals has found reversible error when a trial court has entered a disposition in a delinquency case without including written findings on the factors set out in G.S. 7B-2501(c). The number and frequency of reversals on this ground has even caused the State to concede error on appeal. See, e.g., In re V.M., 211 N.C. App. 389, 391 (2011). Yesterday, the court surprisingly changed course in a published decision, In re D.E.P., __ N.C. App. __ (Feb. 7, 2017), which held that the Juvenile Code does not require the trial court to “make findings of fact that expressly track[] each of the statutory factors listed in [G.S.] 7B-2501(c).” The decision raises some obvious questions. Can one panel of the Court of Appeals overrule another on the same issue? And, how will future cases be impacted? Continue Reading

  • Due Process Rights and Children: Fifty Years of In re Gault – Part Four, the Right to Confrontation

    The Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment provides that “[i]n all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right . . . to be confronted with the witnesses against him.” U.S. Const. amend. VI. This protection applies to state court criminal actions by virtue of the Fourteenth Amendment. It also applies to juvenile proceedings because of In re Gault, 387 U.S. 1 (1967). Simply put, the right to confrontation allows juveniles to face their accusers in court and dispute their testimony through cross-examination. It allows juveniles to challenge the state’s evidence and protects them from the improper admission of certain testimonial hearsay under Crawford. This post explains a juvenile’s right to confront and cross examine witnesses and how far it extends in juvenile court.

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  • Due Process Rights and Children: Fifty Years of In re Gault – Part Three, the Right to Notice

    The right to receive “notice” of a criminal charge or other alleged misconduct is considered to be one of the core requirements of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Although due process requirements vary depending on the circumstances, at a minimum, a person is entitled to notice and an opportunity to be heard before suffering a loss of life, liberty, or property by the government. In re D.B., 186 N.C. App. 556, 564 (2007). This basic protection was not afforded to juveniles prior to In re Gault, 387 U.S. 1 (1967), which extended due process rights to children. Why is notice so important? When must notice be given? How much notice is required? These questions and others are answered in this third post in a series about Gault’s role in protecting the rights of juveniles in delinquency proceedings over the past fifty years.

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  • The Magistrate’s Role in Filing Juvenile Delinquency and Undisciplined Petitions

    Magistrates have limited authority to file juvenile petitions and enter custody orders related to delinquent and undisciplined juveniles. Specifically, a magistrate may “draw and verify the petition and accept it for filing,” in “emergency situations” when the clerk’s office is closed and “a petition is required in order to obtain a secure or nonsecure custody order.” G.S. 7B-1804. Recently, I was invited to discuss this statutory provision with magistrates at their annual fall conference. I had assumed that most magistrates rarely, if ever, file juvenile delinquency or undisciplined petitions and expected to finish the presentation early with few questions. To my surprise, I discovered that magistrates in some counties are routinely being asked to file after hours juvenile petitions and enter secure custody orders, and they had lots of questions. Since I ran out of time trying to answer them all, I decided to write this blog post.

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  • Due Process Rights and Children: Fifty Years of In re Gault – Part Two, the Right to Counsel

    This post is the second in a series focused on In re Gault, the U.S. Supreme Court case which mandated that the core due process rights applicable to adults in criminal proceedings must also be afforded to juveniles who are alleged to be delinquent. Perhaps the most significant of these rights is the right to counsel.

    The Supreme Court strongly condemned the denial of counsel to children in a proceeding which carries “the awesome prospect of incarceration” until the age of majority. 387 U.S. 1, 36. In such proceedings, a juvenile needs legal representation “to cope with problems of law, to make skilled inquiry into the facts, to insist upon regularity of the proceedings, and to ascertain whether he has a defense and to prepare and submit it.” Id. Thus, in delinquency hearings “which may result in commitment to an institution in which the juvenile’s freedom is curtailed,” the child and his or her parents must be notified of the child’s right to counsel, or if they cannot afford counsel, that counsel will be appointed. Id. The NC Juvenile Code codified and expanded the right to counsel in G.S. 7B-2000 by requiring the appointment of counsel for all juveniles who are alleged to be delinquent without the need to show indigency. Despite this progress, advocates still question whether the right to counsel for juveniles extends far enough. Continue Reading

  • Due Process Rights and Children: Fifty Years of In re Gault – Part One

    On May 15, 1967, the U.S. Supreme Court granted due process rights to children in the landmark case of In re Gault, 387 U.S. 1 (1967). The case involved 15-year-old Gerald Gault, who was taken into police custody without notice to his parents, held for four days, and committed to a juvenile facility for a maximum of six years for making a prank phone call to his neighbor. He received no prior notice of the charges and was adjudicated delinquent following an informal hearing with a judge without any witnesses or representation by counsel. His case would spark outrage today but was the norm for juvenile proceedings at the time. When the Supreme Court reversed Gault’s adjudication, it transformed the nature of juvenile court by defining basic requirements of due process that now apply to all delinquency hearings. These rights include:

    • the right to notice of the charges;
    • the right to an attorney;
    • the right to remain silent; and
    • the right to confront and cross-examine witnesses.

    While this decision marked a watershed moment in children’s rights, the language of the Court was not absolute. The Supreme Court did not extend these rights to all juveniles. Gault applies only to juveniles whose adjudication of delinquency may result in commitment to a state institution, which excludes undisciplined juveniles. The Court also limited its holding to the adjudicatory stage, leaving states open to define due process in other stages of juvenile proceedings (i.e., pre-adjudication, disposition, and post-disposition). Gault, 387 U.S. at 13. As a result, the decision did not completely change the legal landscape but left a legal patchwork among state jurisdictions that continues today. This post is the first in a series of posts that will discuss Gault’s impact on juvenile delinquency proceedings in NC and whether Gault’s promise of due process rights for children has been fully achieved.

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  • Consecutive Terms of Commitment for a Delinquent Juvenile

    Can a district court judge impose a consecutive term of commitment upon a delinquent juvenile who is already committed to a youth development center (YDC)? Until yesterday, when I had to research this question for a client, I assumed that consecutive terms of confinement applied only to adult criminal sentences under G.S. 15A-1354 but not to juvenile dispositions. Juveniles who are long term committed to juvenile facilities generally are placed there indefinitely and must work towards release by completing appropriate treatment and services designed to correct their behavior. Typically, there is no predetermined end date to the commitment (like a criminal sentence) which is why I assumed that juveniles could not receive consecutive terms. I was surprised to learn that my assumption was wrong when I found what appears to be the only NC appellate decision on the issue. See Matter of Thompson, 74 N.C. App. 329, 330 (1985). Although Thompson holds that a court may impose a consecutive commitment term, there are a couple reasons why courts may choose not to do so in a delinquency case. Continue Reading

  • Juvenile Defenders Spend Time at a Juvenile Detention Center

    Every other year the School of Government and Office of Indigent Defense Services hold a multi-day skills training for juvenile defenders in North Carolina. The first day of this year’s intensive training was held at the Guilford County Juvenile Detention Center in Greensboro, NC. The juvenile defenders first heard sessions on adolescent brain development by Dr. Ayesha Chaudhary, Forensic Psychiatrist at Duke University, and detention advocacy by Mitch Feld, Director of Children’s Defense at the Council for Children’s Rights. This set the stage for the tour of the facility and conversations with the youth. Continue Reading

  • Extending a Juvenile’s Probation Term: Frequently Asked Questions

    Unless the court has specified a shorter term, a juvenile’s initial term of probation expires after one year, if not extended by the court. Extensions of probation are governed by G.S. 7B-2510(c), which was amended by HB 879 effective December 1, 2015. The statute now provides that “[p]rior to expiration of an order of probation, the court may extend it for an additional period of one year after notice and a hearing, if the court finds that the extension is necessary to protect the community or to safeguard the welfare of the juvenile.” Since December, I’ve received numerous questions about the new notice requirement, which apparently is being interpreted in many different ways.  To help clarify this question and other issues related to extensions of probation, here’s a brief summary of FAQ’s about the procedure for extending a juvenile’s probation. Continue Reading

  • What the Interstate Compact Rules Say About Out-of-State Runaways

    When a juvenile runs from North Carolina to another state or to North Carolina from another state, interstate procedures apply to facilitate the juvenile’s safe return to his or her home state. Recently, law enforcement officials in multiple North Carolina counties have encountered out-of-state runaways and yesterday, this topic appeared on one of the School of Government monitored listservs. So, it seems like a good time to review what the Interstate Compact for Juveniles says about the legal process for returning these children to their homes. Continue Reading

  • New Juvenile Law Bulletin: Applying the Reasonable Child Standard to Juvenile Interrogations After J.D.B. v. North Carolina

    Nearly five years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court decided J.D.B. v. North Carolina, a case arising from the police interrogation of a middle school student in Chapel Hill. In a 5-4 decision, the Court ruled that police officers must consider a juvenile’s age when determining whether they must read juveniles their Miranda rights before questioning them. The ruling represents a major shift in Miranda jurisprudence by establishing a different standard for evaluating police interrogations of juveniles – the reasonable child standard. In the years since J.D.B., however, lower courts have not clearly defined how the reasonable child standard impacts the assessment of whether a juvenile was “in custody.” The application of this new standard also raises questions about how North Carolina courts evaluate custody determinations in the school setting. These and other issues are addressed in detail in “Applying the Reasonable Child Standard to Juvenile Interrogations After J.D.B. v. North Carolina” (No. 2016/01). Continue Reading

  • Obtaining Relief from an Adjudication of Delinquency: Does Rule 60 Apply?

    Several years ago when I was an appellate attorney for the State, I filed a cert petition seeking appellate review of a court order granting a Rule 60(b)(6) motion to set aside an adjudication of delinquency for first degree sex offense. The court found that the allegations were proven beyond a reasonable doubt but then allowed the juvenile’s Rule 60(b) motion because the offense (fellatio) was four years old, it was not committed in a violent manner, the juvenile showed no risk of reoffending, and labeling the juvenile as a sex offender would do him more harm than good. Based on these findings, the court concluded that “extraordinary circumstances” existed and that justice required granting the juvenile’s motion. The Court of Appeals declined to review the order and still hasn’t addressed whether Rule 60(b) applies to delinquency cases.

    District court judges throughout the state disagree on the answer (which I discovered during a lively debate in my first juvenile delinquency course at the School of Government). There is no clear answer, but appellate cases suggest that Rule 60(b) does apply. However, it may not authorize setting aside an adjudication order, as described above. Here’s why.

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  • Juvenile Code Reform Legislation (HB 879) Becomes Effective December 1, 2015

    In a prior post, I wrote about SB 331, which proposed several changes to the delinquency subchapter of the Juvenile Code. That bill didn’t make it. Instead, it became HB 879 (enacted as S.L. 2015-58), which includes several new laws intended to either increase due process protections for juveniles, reduce further entry of juveniles in the delinquency system, or reduce juvenile confinement. Although it’s similar to the prior Senate bill, there are some important differences that you should know about before the new laws become effective on December 1, 2015. One of these laws involves a juvenile age increase, although it’s not quite the change for which “raise the age” advocates were lobbying.

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  • 2015 Pending Juvenile Justice Legislation

    *** Note, since this blog post was published, the General Assembly enacted S.L. 2015-58, which replaces SB 331. For more information, see this blog post on juvenile code reform legislation.

    Subchapter II of the North Carolina Juvenile Code has seen few changes, since the Juvenile Code was rewritten in 1998. However, several bills are currently pending that suggest change may be coming. Some of these pending bills seek to clarify existing statutory procedures or create new procedures to provide guidance where the Juvenile Code is currently silent. However, two of the proposed changes are intended to reverse recent appellate court decisions interpreting the Juvenile Code. This list, although not exhaustive, describes pending bills that are likely to be of interest to juvenile court officials.

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  • When Can Juveniles Be Held in Contempt?

    Juveniles, like adults, may be held in contempt for disrespecting the court or interfering with the proper administration of justice. Consider the actions of the juveniles in the following cases: (1) Evan, age 14, was adjudicated delinquent for simple possession of marijuana. At the disposition hearing, the judge asked Evan, “Where do you get your marijuana?” and he refused to answer. Although the judge repeated this question several times, he still refused to answer. (2) Kim, age 15, was adjudicated as an undisciplined juvenile for habitual, unlawful absences from school. The terms of her protective supervision order required her to attend school every day, but she has repeatedly skipped school, since the disposition hearing. May either juvenile be held in contempt? The short answer is yes.

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  • Can Probation Be Revoked in Juvenile’s Absence?

    Suppose you are a North Carolina district court judge presiding over a probation revocation hearing in the case of a juvenile who was adjudicated delinquent for a serious or violent offense. Present at the hearing are the juvenile’s counsel, the juvenile’s parent(s), the prosecutor, and the juvenile court counselor. In other words, everyone is present, except for the juvenile, who received notice but failed to appear. To complicate things, the juvenile’s maximum 2-year probation term expires today. Can you proceed? And, if so, can you revoke the juvenile’s probation and commit the juvenile to a youth development center (YDC)? Surprisingly, there doesn’t appear to be a clear answer. Here’s why.

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