The capacity to transfer a juvenile matter to superior court as a result of the return of an indictment was added to the Juvenile Code as part of the law changes that raised the age of juvenile court jurisdiction. S.L. 2017-57 §16D.4.(e) as amended by S.L. 2019-186 §8.a. Never before had the indictment process been connected to delinquency matters in juvenile court. This new structure requires a finding in the juvenile matter after an indictment has been returned. It raises a range of questions about procedure and confidentiality. This post will review when indictment can be used to trigger the transfer process, highlight what is known and not known about the procedure that must accompany the new use of indictment in delinquency matters, and address the question of confidentiality of an indictment that is used to form the basis of a judicial finding in juvenile court. Continue Reading
Last month, I was listening to hosts on a radio station discuss the fires in Tennessee that caused the loss of 14 lives and damage or destruction to more than 1,700 buildings. They were shocked to learn that two teenagers are alleged to have started these fires. The hosts discussed the many stupid things they did when they were teenagers. They shared how they did not consider the consequences of their actions before engaging in such risky behaviors. One host said he once set something on fire in the woods. Although the fire didn’t cause any damage or harm, he never considered that the fire could get out of hand. Another host stated that she could not excuse the teenagers. She could understand if they were eight or nine years of age, but she believes teenagers know exactly what they are doing. At what age should a teenager be held criminally responsible for misconduct that constitutes a crime? North Carolina lawmakers are currently debating this question.