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Week in Review: August 15-19

Hey Hey! It's Friday! OJD is attending the Juvenile Defender Conference at the School of Government today, but that doesn't mean you won't get a brand new tip of the week (from Terri!) or find out about a new job posting within IDS. Let's get to it!

Tip of the Week - Amending Juvenile Petitions

The 2021Annual Report indicates that out of complaints filed in the fiscal year 2020-2021, over 29,000 complaints were made affecting over 11,000 distinct Youth. From those complaints and distinct youth, five thousand (5,103 to be precise) distinct youth were approved for court (meaning petitions were filed). Mistakes can and do happen in the drafting and filing of petitions. Additionally, stakeholders may wish to reach an agreement to a less serious offense where the less serious offense is not a lesser included offense of the original petition. The question then may arise, can a petition be amended?

N.C.G.S. 7B-2400 specifically addresses amendment of juvenile petitions and states that “the court may permit a petition to be amended when the amendment does not change the nature of the offense alleged.” If an amendment is granted, the juvenile is entitled to a reasonable period to prepare a defense to the new allegations. Defenders should always review petitions closely for errors such as unsigned or unverified petitions and pay attention to the language and whether the petition is legally sufficient. Amendment to correct a clerical error such as the spelling of a name may be harmless to the client but amending the charge itself, however slightly, is an error if it changes the nature of the offense.

In re Davis, 114 N.C. App. 253 (1994) addresses amendment and the Appellate Court held that even amending a petition with the consent of the defense from burning personal property to burning a public building. Likewise, State v. Moore, 162 N.C. App. 268 (2004) addressed amendment and the Court of Appeals held that the amendment of a petition for possession of drug paraphernalia from a smoking device to a brown paper container was improper. Counsel should be aware that denial of a motion to amend does not preclude the State’s ability to dismiss the petition and file a new petition.

For a full discussion including the timeliness of filing new petitions and the Court’s jurisdiction to amend a petition following appeal, defenders should review Chapter 6 of the Juvenile Defender Manual.

Job Opportunity!

The Office of Indigent Defense Services is seeking a qualified individual to serve as Regional Defender. The Regional Defenders work to advance Indigent Defense Services (IDS) mission to safeguard justice by serving as the primary point of contact for contract attorneys and judicial officials. Work location may be in either Durham or Wake County.

Details, including how to apply, can be found here.

A New Resource!

The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges released an infographic highlighting community-based alternatives to secure custody. It offers strategies to implement them and explains which youth should be considered as well as outcomes and so much much. Take a look at that infographic here.

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