Over the next two months, we will be blogging about the new Juvenile Code Reform law (sometimes referred to as House Bill 879, or Session Law 2015-58). The law is effective for offenses committed on or after December 1, 2015. The three blogs will track the three Parts of the law: Due Process Changes, Reduce Further Entry, and Juvenile Confinement. This is the second of the three blogs. Each blog will provide a brief overview of the new law, but focus on tips for juvenile defenders. Other materials will be linked as appropriate.
Part II, Reduce Further Entry of Juveniles, makes the following changes and additions to the Juvenile Code:
- Section 2.1: Amends NCGS 7B-1701 by emphasizing the duty of the juvenile court counselor to make reasonable efforts to meet with the juvenile and parent to determine whether a petition should be filed.
- Section 2.2: Amends NCGS 7B-2404 by creating a procedure for voluntary dismissal by the prosecutor.
- Section 2.3: Amends NCGS 7B-2507(a) by defining a prior adjudication as an adjudication that occurs before the adjudication currently before the court.
- Section 2.4: Amends NCGS 7B-2510 in sections, by defining the parameters for hearing an extension of probation and clarifying that upon a violation of probation, and clarifying that the court may raise the disposition level, or give twice the term of confinement authorized by statute, but not both.
- Section 2.5: Amends NCGS 7B-2512 by creating a new obligation of the court to inform a juvenile of the right to an expunction.
Here are tips defenders should consider in representing clients under the new law:
- Pre-Adjudication – Defense counsel should work with prosecutors to secure deferral agreements resulting in dismissals to reduce adjudications. As such, counsel should be familiar with community service or other opportunities provided in their jurisdiction. Counsel should also investigate whether the juvenile met with the intake court counselor and had an opportunity for diversion.
- Adjudication – Defense counsel should work to ensure that all pending adjudications are admitted or heard prior to a disposition being entered to reduce the prior delinquency history level. As always, defense counsel should review the juvenile court file to determine past adjudications. Defense counsel should also inquire from the court counselor whether other adjudications are pending in other jurisdictions.
- Post-Disposition – Counsel should speak to qualified juveniles, in detail, about their right to an expunction, including benefits, tools, and resources. Expunction resources for attorneys and youth can be found on the Office of the Juvenile Defender website.
- a quick-reference guide describing the new law