In the Matter of B.W.C., 2022-NCCOA-590


Facts: Brian, age 15, was adjudicated undisciplined in April of 2021. He was given a contempt warning in open court following adjudication. A second order issued by the court on the date of the adjudication included that Brian was to attend school daily; have no unexcused absences, tardies, or suspensions; and complete all assigned schoolwork. This order included that Brian verbally acknowledged that he understood that violation of the conditions could result in being held in contempt. The related dispositional order, entered in June of 2021, placed Brian on protective supervision and required him to attend school regularly, among other things. It also provided that the contempt warning provided after adjudication remained in effect. A delinquency petition was filed in August of 2021 alleging that Brian had three unexcused absences and therefore was in contempt of the court order. Brian filed a motion to dismiss, alleging that G.S. 7B-2505, read together with G.S. 7B-2503, did not allow for the trial court to pursue a delinquency action following an undisciplined adjudication and that pursuit of a delinquency adjudication was therefore a due process violation. The trial court denied the motion, Brian admitted to indirect contempt, and he was placed on probation for six months.


Opinion: G.S. 7B-1501(7)(a) states that a juvenile [between the ages of 10 and 16] is delinquent if they commit indirect contempt, as defined in G.S. 5A-31. Under G.S. 5A-31, a juvenile commits indirect contempt when they engage in willful disobedience of, resistance to, or interference with a lawful court order and when that occurs outside the presence of a court. Indirect contempt by a juvenile can only be adjudged and sanctioned through a delinquency proceeding, as provided in Subchapter II of Chapter 7B of the General Statutes. Brian committed indirect contempt when he violated his undisciplined disposition by failing to attend school regularly. He was put on notice several times that such a violation would result in being held in contempt. The undisciplined dispositional alternatives in the Juvenile Code ceased to control the dispositional alternatives once Brian was held in indirect contempt. It was proper for the trial court to find Brian delinquent as a result of the contempt and in light of the trial court’s multiple contempt warnings. The trial court did not err in dismissing the motion to dismiss.

Undisciplined Contempt
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