Have you ever been deeply enmeshed in a project, thought it was done, and when you returned with fresh eyes realized that you missed something important? That has happened for me when, for example, I painted the walls of my son’s bedroom only to walk in the next day with fresh eyes and realize that I should have painted the trim as well. And then it happened again as I was working on a chapter in the forthcoming Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act Implementation Guide and realized that there is an amendment contained in the Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act (JJRA), that will take effect on December 1, 2019, that changes one piece of the recently released Juvenile Law Bulletin, Delinquency and DSS Custody without Abuse, Neglect, or Dependency: How Does that Work?. The change limits the court’s authority to order DSS custody as a component of a delinquency disposition, allowing this disposition only for juveniles under the age of 18. This limiting language creates a clear age boundary for an initial order of disposition to DSS custody in a delinquency case. However, questions remain regarding the capacity for a juvenile to remain in DSS custody pursuant to a delinquency dispositional order after turning 18. Continue Reading
Did you know that in a juvenile delinquency court case the juvenile may be placed in the custody of a county’s child welfare department (usually a department of social services (DSS))? A DSS placement through a delinquency action may happen in one of three ways:
- a nonsecure custody order (G.S. 7B-1902 through -1907),
- a dispositional order after the juvenile has been adjudicated delinquent (G.S. 7B-2506(1)c.), and/or
- an order appointing DSS as the juvenile’s guardian of the person (G.S. 7B-2001).
With each of these types of delinquency orders, there is not an allegation, substantiation, or adjudication that the juvenile is abused, neglected, or dependent (see my last blog post, here, discussing delinquency as it relates to abuse, neglect, or dependency). Instead, the juvenile’s court involvement is a result of his or her alleged acts of delinquency rather than circumstances created by a parent, guardian, custodian, or caretaker. Each of these three custody orders is a type of delinquency order and not an order related to a juvenile’s abuse, neglect, or dependency. However, at times, as a result of the order placing the juvenile in DSS custody, pieces of abuse, neglect, and dependency law apply in the delinquency case.
The legal implications of placing a juvenile into DSS custody and resulting foster care as part of a delinquency matter are complex – so complex, that a blog post will not do. Instead, my colleague, Jacquelyn (Jacqui) Greene and I wrote a new extensive juvenile law bulletin discussing these orders and the issues that arise with each type of order. You can access the bulletin, Delinquency and DSS Custody without Abuse, Neglect, or Dependency: How Does that Work? here. Continue Reading
If you’re a sports fan like me, you probably like sports movies. And if you like sports movies, you know the famous line from Jerry Maguire, “show me the money!” That line has some application to abuse, neglect, or dependency cases – specifically when a court is going to order custody or guardianship of a child who has been adjudicated abused, neglected, or dependent to a person who is not the child’s parent. The Juvenile Code requires that the court first verify that the proposed custodian or guardian “will have adequate resources to care appropriately for the juvenile.” G.S. 7B-903(a)(4), -906.1(j), -600(c).* Continue Reading
Over the past four months, I’ve had the opportunity to discuss the new juvenile delinquency legislation, S.L. 2015-58, with juvenile court officials from every part of the system – prosecutors, defenders, judges, and most recently, juvenile court counselors. While each group had distinct questions and concerns, one particular issue universally generated the most discussion. That issue was intermittent confinement (short periods of confinement in juvenile detention) or “IC days” and how the amendments to G.S. 7B-2506(12) and (20) change the way it is “imposed.” The amended statutes mandate that only judges may determine the imposition of IC days, whereas previously, judges were only required to determine the timing of the confinement. In a recent post, I explained that this change was designed to prevent judges from improperly delegating their authority to court counselors by suspending IC days and ordering court counselors to impose them immediately upon the juvenile’s noncompliance with certain conditions. This practice will soon be prohibited (as of December 1, 2015), since the new law clarifies that only the court may impose the confinement. However, the lack of specific guidelines has left judges and court counselors wondering what they must do to comply with the statute. Here are some additional thoughts about how I think this legislation will impact the court.Continue Reading
Last month, I wrote a blog post about the recently enacted Juvenile Code Reform legislation (S.L. 2015-58, HB 879), which creates several new laws affecting delinquent juveniles. The last section of the bill amends G.S. 7B-2506(12) and (20), which authorize intermittent confinement in a juvenile detention facility as a Level 1 or Level 2 dispositional alternative. Currently, the trial court must determine the timing of the intermittent confinement, but beginning December 1, 2015, it must also determine the imposition of the confinement. Although this change appears to be minor, it addresses a major issue related to juvenile dispositions – the improper delegation of the trial court’s authority, typically, to court counselors. Most of the calls I get about improper delegation of authority in juvenile court concern intermittent confinement, and particularly, how it is imposed. This post will examine how the new legislation was designed to address these concerns by changing the way district court judges impose intermittent confinement.