- Adjudication & Sentencing — North Carolina Appeals Court Prohibits Extending a Youth’s Probationary Period Retroactively: North Carolina youth had been sentenced to probation and committed a new offense two months after his probation ended. The trial court retroactively extended the youth’s probationary period, and then committed the youth to a youth development center based on additional “delinquency points” assigned to the youth for the commission of an offense while on probation. The youth filed a motion to modify his sentence, based on the fact that he wasn’t actually still on probation when the new offense was committed. The Court of Appeals invalidated the trial court’s order denying the youth’s motion to modify his sentence, stating that while a trial court may modify a youth’s probationary period within a reasonable amount of time after its expiration, it may not determine on a retroactive basis that it had extended a youth’s probation, and then assign additional delinquency points for the commission of a new offense during the retroactively extended probationary period. In the matter of A.F., 2013 N.C. App. LEXIS 1316.
- Adjudication & Sentencing — North Carolina Appeals Court Invalidates Commitment Extension Order Issued without Proper Notice: The North Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) extended a youth’s commitment period without providing the legally-required written notice to the youth and his parents 30 days before the youth’s commitment was set to expire. Instead, DJJ orally notified the youth and his father. The youth filed a motion for release based on the fact that he and his parents had not received adequate notice of the extension of his commitment. On appeal, the court held that oral notice does not conform with the requirements set forth in North Carolina law, and that the trial court erred in denying the youth’s motion for release. In re J.L.H., 2013 N.C. App. LEXIS 1155.
- Adjudication & Sentencing — Legislative Research Commission Recommends Raising the Age for Youth Charged with Misdemeanors: The North Carolina Legislative Research Commission’s Committee on Age of Juvenile Offenders issued a report in December 2012 recommending that the state raise the age of juvenile court jurisdiction from 16 to 18 for youth who are charged with misdemeanors. The committee recommended passage of S.B. 434 from the 2011 session, which would raise the age for misdemeanors, but would keep in adult court 16- and 17-year olds previously convicted of felonies in adult court.
- Adjudication & Sentencing — North Carolina Eliminates Mandatory Life without Parole for Youth: Complying with Miller v. Alabama, North Carolina abolished mandatory life imprisonment without parole for youth convicted of first degree murder for offenses committed while under age 18. Judges now have the option of sentencing youth to life with parole after serving 25 years. At the sentencing hearing, courts must consider mitigating factors, and defense counsel may submit evidence related to the youth’s age, immaturity, mental health, intellectual capacity, ability to appreciate the risks and consequences of his or her behavior, amenability to rehabilitation, and the influence of familial or peer pressure. The issue of whether the new law is retroactive now sits before the North Carolina Supreme Court. S.B. 635/Act No. 2012-148, signed into law and effective July 12, 2012.
- Probation, Parole, & Reentry — North Carolina Limits Probation Officer Visits at Schools: North Carolina passed a law that limits probation officer visits on school property during school hours. Probation officers may make such visits only with prior authorization from school administrators. Visits must take place in a private area away from the general student population and probation officers may not initiate contact with students while they are in class or between classes. S.B. 707/Act No. 2012-149, signed into law July 12, 2012; effective at the beginning of the 2012-2013 school year.
- Sex Offender Laws & Registries — North Carolina Refuses to Comply with Federal Registration Requirements for Youth Convicted of Sex Offenses: North Carolina did not comply with the registration requirements set forth by the federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), including broad provisions applying to youth convicted of sex offenses. The state justified its refusal based on the costs to comply with the act: the expense of meeting SORNA’s requirements came to $14.7 million, compared with the $900,000 in federal funding that the state loses due to its lack of compliance. February, 2012.
- Status Offenses — North Carolina Limits Detention for Certain Status Offenses: North Carolina youth who are alleged to be “undisciplined” and have willfully failed to appear in court, or who are considered “runaways” may not be detained for more than 24 hours. Previously, such youth could be detained for a maximum of 72 hours. H.B. 853/Act No. 2012-172, signed into law July 12, 2012; effective October 1, 2012.
- Facility Closures and Downsizing — Secure Detention Admissions Decrease in North Carolina: In 2011, secure detention admissions in North Carolina decreased 17.7 percent and commitments to Youth Development Centers decreased 14 percent from 2010 rates, thanks to a shift in Division of Juvenile Justice policy away from overutilization of costly institutions and toward alternatives to detention. The state has made a commitment to evidence-based decision making, using data to drive placement and case review decisions, adoption of graduated responses, court reviews of all detention-related decisions, and using community partners to grow alternatives to detention. The total number of juvenile delinquency complaints filed statewide decreased as well for the fourth straight year, and the rate of delinquency complaints filed per 1,000 youth ages 6-15 dropped to a 12-year low. Effective July 1, 2012, the state is instituting a detention screening tool statewide to facilitate data-driven decision making. Also in 2012, the state will fully implement graduated response grids for court-involved youth.
- Confidentiality and Expungement — Legislature Provides for Expungement of Youthful Offender Criminal Records: North Carolina law now provides for expungement of criminal records for 16- and 17-year-olds charged as adults who are first-time offenders. Youth must file a petition for expungement, which must then be approved by the court. Upon approval, criminal records must be expunged from court, law enforcement, and state or local government agency records. S.B. 397/Session Law 2011-278, signed into law June 23, 2011; effective December 1, 2011.
- Youth in the Adult System — Legislature Establishes Task Force to Evaluate Raising Age: North Carolina’s 2010 budget included language to establish a Youth Accountability Planning Task Force. The task force is to determine whether North Carolina should raise the age of juvenile court jurisdiction from 16 to 18 and develop an implementation plan to do so. The task force released a report in January 2011, which recommends that youth under age 18 accused of minor crimes should be handled in the juvenile justice system, while 16- and 17-year-olds accused of serious felonies should remain in the adult system. Also in January 2011, the Vera Institute of Justice issued a cost-benefit analysis of raising the age in North Carolina. The analysis found that expanding juvenile jurisdiction to include misdemeanor and nonviolent felony offenses for 16- and 17-yearolds would annually yield $52.3 million in net benefits. The governor issued an executive order early in 2011 extending the task force until December 31, 2012 so that the group can continue its work. Executive Order 80, January 14, 2011.
- North Carolina Appeals Court Prohibits Extending a Youth’s Probationary Period Retroactively
- North Carolina Appeals Court Invalidates Commitment Extension Order Issued without Proper Notice
- Legislative Research Commission Recommends Raising the Age for Youth Charged with Misdemeanors
- North Carolina Eliminates Mandatory Life without Parole for Youth
- North Carolina Limits Probation Officer Visits at Schools
- North Carolina Limits Detention for Certain Status Offenses
- North Carolina Establishes Task Force to Evaluate Raising Age, Executive Order 80, January 14, 2011