In the Matter of K.M., 2021-NCCOA-3 (February 2, 2021)

Vacated and Remanded
  • Facts: The juvenile was first placed at a YDC and then at a Level III group home following adjudications for first-degree statutory sex offense and second-degree forcible sex offense. A motion for review “to review community commitment status” was filed seven months later and a review hearing was held. A representative of the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) testified to problems that the juvenile had related to an in-school suspension, an MP3 player with inappropriate sexual content, possession of vaping paraphernalia, and failure to be at a specified meeting spot after school on two occasions. The DJJ report recommended removal from the community placement and return to the YDC. The trial court reviewed a risk and needs assessment, a report from the Level III placement provider which included an addendum from a therapist, and a report from Rehabilitative Support Services (a provider for Alliance Health, the local management entity) regarding an assessment that had been completed six days prior to the hearing. The trial court also heard testimony from the juvenile’s social worker, a staff member from the Level III group home, and the juvenile’s mother. The court then revoked the juvenile’s community commitment and ordered him to return to the YDC.


  •  Opinion: The trial court erred by entering a new dispositional order without first referring the juvenile to the area mental health services director as required by G.S. 7B-2502(c). The statute requires the trial court to refer the juvenile to the area mental health services director for appropriate action when faced with any amount of evidence that a juvenile is mentally ill. This is true regardless of whether the juvenile has received mental health services prior to the disposition. In this case, evidence was presented to the court establishing the juvenile’s mental health issues. The evidence required the court to refer the juvenile to the area mental health services director rather than revoke the juvenile’s community status and return him to the YDC. Failure to make the statutorily required referral was error.
Disposition Order
Mental Health Referral
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