In the Matter of J.S.W., 211 N.C. App. 620 (2011)

No Error

The Court of Appeals rejected the juvenile’s argument that after commitment, all decisions about services, privileges, or punishments are to be made by the Division of Juvenile Justice, not the trial court. Following his admission to first-degree rape, the juvenile was committed to a youth development center for an indefinite period, although the disposition order indicated that the juvenile was to “[r]emain in YDC for the maximum time allowed by law,” which was age 21. The order also required the juvenile, among other things, to receive a sex-offender specific evaluation and treatment. Almost 3 years later, the Division filed a motion seeking clarification as to whether the juvenile could participate in an off-campus work program and have home and overnight visits. At a hearing the court heard witnesses from the Division, a minister who knew the juvenile’s case, and the juvenile’s mother. The State opposed allowing any of the privileges that were the subject of the motion. The trial court ordered that the juvenile (i) could work off campus, but only if he would not be around anyone age 25 or younger; (ii) could have no home or overnight visits; and (iii) could participate in YDC outings if there were direct supervision at all times. On appeal, the Court of Appeals noted that when a juvenile is committed for first-degree rape, jurisdiction continues until the juvenile reaches age 21 or the court terminates jurisdiction, whichever is earlier, and that commitment does not terminate the trial court’s jurisdiction. The court also cited In re Doe, 329 N.C. 743 (1991), in which the state supreme court discussed the “necessary functional overlap” of the legislative and judicial branches inherent in the Juvenile Code. Thus, the trial court can enter orders relating to the terms of the juvenile’s commitment, such as privileges and punishment, without violating the separation of powers doctrine. The court also held that the trial court clearly considered the dispositional factors set out in G.S. 7B-2501 and did not abuse its discretion.

Jurisdiction After Commitment to YDC
Click on a term below for additional case summaries tagged with the same term.