In the Matter of A.O., 2022-NCCOA-651

Vacated and Remanded

Facts: A.O. was charged with common law robbery. The victim testified that he could not identify A.O. as the person who took his wallet because of an eye injury that the victim sustained at the time of the robbery. A.O.’s attorney moved to dismiss the charge at the close of the State’s evidence and that motion was denied. A.O.’s attorney then called A.O. to testify. The trial court did not administer any oral or written warnings to A.O. before he testified. A.O. proceeded to testify that he took the victim’s wallet from the victim’s empty car while the victim was fighting with other people. A.O. was adjudicated delinquent for larceny from the person.

Opinion: G.S. 7B-2405 mandates that the trial court protect a juvenile’s right to the privilege against self-incrimination. Some colloquy is required between the trial court and the juvenile before the juvenile chooses to testify at their adjudication to ensure that the juvenile understands their right against self-incrimination. The court in this case failed to follow the statutory mandate because the court did not engage in any colloquy with the juvenile about the privilege against self-incrimination before the juvenile testified. The error was not harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. There was no evidence as to the identity of the person who took the wallet until the juvenile testified. The adjudication order is vacated and the case is remanded for a new hearing.

Juvenile Rights
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