In the Matter of D.S., 364 N.C. 184 (2010)

Reversed in Part

The NC Supreme Court held that the statutory time limits in G.S. 7B-1703 for the filing of juvenile petitions are not jurisdictional. On 9/25/07 the court counselor received a complaint about an incident that occurred at school, involving the juvenile’s touching a female student with an object several times. On 10/10/07 the counselor filed a petition based on the complaint, alleging simple assault. On 11/15/07 the court counselor received a second complaint relating to the same incident, and the next day the counselor filed a second petition alleging sexual battery. The trial court adjudicated the juvenile delinquent for both offenses. The Court of Appeals held that the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction with respect to the second, sexual battery, petition because it was untimely filed, reasoning that receipt of a second complaint about the same incident could not be the basis for a second petition based on that incident, thus extending the time within which a petition could be filed. The court did not discuss what constituted the “complaint.” The Supreme Court reversed, concluding that the second petition was timely filed because it was filed the day after a new “complaint” was received. The Juvenile Code, when it says “after the complaint is received,” means after the court counselor receives a written, sworn document alleging acts of delinquency. When the initial complaint did not allege a sexual battery, the court counselor could not file a petition alleging that offense based on that complaint. Further, nothing in the Juvenile Code indicates a legislative intent for the time limits in G.S. 7B-1703 to relate to subject matter jurisdiction. While interpreting them that way might serve the Code’s purpose of expediting juvenile cases, it would be contrary to other purposes of the Code.

Juvenile Petitions
Untimely Filed Petitions
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