What law applies when a juvenile is suspected of impaired driving? If the juvenile is 16- or 17-years-old, the criminal law applies in the same way that it applies to someone aged 18 or older. These offenses are carved out of juvenile jurisdiction (G.S. 7B-1501(7)b.) They are therefore criminal matters from their inception. However, if the juvenile is under age 16 at the time of the offense, the case is a juvenile matter from its inception. This blog explains how cases alleging impaired driving under the age of 16 should proceed pursuant to the Juvenile Code.Continue Reading
Nontestimonial Identification Orders in Delinquency Matters
The law that governs the use of nontestimonial identification procedures in delinquency matters is markedly different than the law that governs use of these same procedures in criminal matters. The Juvenile Code requires a court order prior to the use of most nontestimonial identification procedures, a nontestimonial identification order (NTO) can only be issued in relation to felony charges, there are specific statutes that govern the destruction of resulting records, and the willful violation of the juvenile NTO statutes carries a criminal penalty. This post describes when NTOs are needed, and the procedure that must be followed to obtain them, in matters under juvenile jurisdiction. Continue Reading
Assessments in Delinquency Cases: When Can They be Done and Are They Confidential?
One of the unique features of the juvenile justice system is its statutory focus on identifying the needs of juveniles and resolving matters to provide “appropriate rehabilitative services to juveniles.” G.S. 7B-1500(2)b. In addition to protecting public safety, dispositions should include “an appropriate plan to meet the needs of the juvenile.” G.S. 7B-2500. The caselaw and statutes that govern one form of assessment in delinquency cases—the comprehensive clinical assessment (CCA)—have undergone rapid change in the last few years. Other assessments, such as assessment for problematic sexual behavior or trauma-focused assessments, may also be needed in certain cases. Questions abound regarding when assessments can occur and what confidentiality law applies to them. This new infographic provides a high-level overview of the law that addresses these questions.Continue Reading
New Juvenile Law Bulletin on Juvenile Interrogation
What circumstances constitute custodial interrogation in a school setting? Who counts as a guardian or custodian for the purpose of a custodial interrogation of a juvenile? Under what circumstances can a juvenile waive their rights that attach during a custodial interrogation? A new Juvenile Law Bulletin on Juvenile Interrogation is now available as a School of Government publication. The Bulletin details the applicable law that addresses these questions and other issues related to the custodial interrogation of juveniles. You can access it by clicking on the link above.Continue Reading
Procedure in Juvenile Homicide Cases
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. Continue Reading
Juveniles and Firearms: Recent Data Trends
The 2022 Annual Report from the North Carolina Child Fatality Task Force (CFTF) highlights a significant increase in firearm-related deaths among North Carolina’s youth. The CFTF Annual Report, submitted in May of 2022, details child fatalities that occurred in North Carolina in 2020. According to the CFTF, rates for suicides, homicides, and firearm deaths for children in North Carolina all increased in 2020. CFTF Annual Report, p. 2. Firearms were used in 12 of the 20 suicides reported among youth ages 10 – 14 and in 19 of the 35 suicides reported among youth ages 15 – 17. All 11 of the homicides reported against youth ages 10 – 14 involved a firearm and 48 of the 50 homicides reported against youth ages 15 – 17 involved a firearm. Table 1, CFTF Annual Report. Suicide was the leading cause of death among youth ages 10 – 14 and homicide was the leading cause of death among youth ages 15 – 17. Table 2, CFTF Annual Report.
These numbers reflect an increasing trend of firearm-related deaths among youth. While there were 525 firearm-related youth deaths between 2011 and 2020, 105 firearm-related youth deaths were recorded in 2020 alone. CFTF Annual Report, p. 18.
Is this trend rooted in more violent firearm usage by youth? The suicide data clearly reflects youth use of firearms to kill themselves. Do the homicide numbers reflect youth shooting other youth? Data from the Division of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (DJJDP) may shed some light on that question. Continue Reading
How to Comply with Federal Confidentiality Laws When Reviewing Comprehensive Clinical Assessments in Delinquency Cases
Comprehensive clinical assessments (CCA’s) are frequently completed—and sometimes required—prior to ordering a disposition in a delinquency matter. G.S. 7B-2502(a2). You can find more information about when the statutory requirement is triggered in a previous blog. CCA’s contain information about the juvenile’s mental health and they may also contain information about substance use disorder treatment. These kinds of information are covered by federal confidentiality laws that are not specifically addressed by the Juvenile Code. While the federal laws generally prohibit disclosure absent a valid patient authorization, courts can order disclosure after following the required procedure and making certain findings. The North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts (NCAOC) recently released new and revised forms that are structured to provide the court access to CCA’s while complying with the requirements of federal confidentiality laws. This post explains why and how to use the new and revised forms. Continue Reading
Structuring Individualized Delinquency Dispositions
The Juvenile Code requires the court to select the most appropriate disposition for the delinquent juvenile. G.S. 7B-2501(c). Under this statute, the disposition must be designed to protect the public and to meet the needs and best interests of the juvenile based on offense severity, the need for accountability, the importance of protecting public safety, the juvenile’s degree of culpability, and the rehabilitative and treatment needs of the juvenile. There are many different statutory pathways available to the court to structure individualized dispositions targeted to meet the needs of the juvenile and reduce their risk of reoffending. This post explores some of those options, with an emphasis on alternatives outside of standard terms and conditions for probation or placement in out-of-home settings. Continue Reading
New Resource on Juvenile Transfer Procedure
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. Continue Reading
Raise the Age and Enforcement of Domestic Violence Protective Orders and Civil No-Contact Orders
The Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act and its subsequent corresponding legislation raised the age of juvenile jurisdiction to 18 for most offenses committed at ages 16 or 17 that would otherwise be crimes. S.L. 2017-57, §§ 16.D.4.(a)-16.D.4.(tt) and S.L. 2019-186. Last summer, the legislature enacted changes to the criminal law to ensure that minors who fall outside of raise the age and continue to be tried as adults are not housed in adult jails. S.L. 2020-83, §§ 8.(a)-8.(p). While it may feel like these changes must mean that the age of 18 is now consistently the legal demarcation for being treated as an adult, the law continues to use the age of 16 as a defining line in some instances. For example, Chapter 50B (Domestic Violence) and Chapter 50C (Civil No-Contact Orders) continue to provide that domestic violence protective orders (DVPOs) and Civil No-Contact Orders can be obtained against youth once they reach the age of 16. This blog addresses how enforcement of these orders against youth who are ages 16 and 17 is affected by raise the age and by the removal of minors from jails. Continue Reading