In the Matter of T.H, 218 N.C. App. 123 (2012)


The Court of Appeals rejected the juvenile’s argument that G.S. 7B-1702 should be strictly construed to require, in every case, that the court counselor interview the juvenile and the alleged victim unless it is impossible to do so. The juvenile was adjudicated delinquent for simple assault and common law robbery. When the complaint was filed with juvenile services, the juvenile was already on probation, a law enforcement officer had investigated the case and interviewed the alleged victim, and the victim had made a written statement about the event and twice identified the juvenile in a photographic line-up. After talking with the complaining officer, but without interviewing the juvenile or the alleged victim, the court counselor approved the complaint for filing as a petition. On appeal, the court noted that the addition to the statute of the phrase “if practicable,” in 1998, gave court counselors more flexibility in how they evaluate whether a petition should be filed. That wording means that the statute requires the suggested interviews only when additional evidence is needed in order to evaluate the matter according to the DJJDP intake factors. Here, additional information was not required and the court counselor complied with G.S. 7B-1702 in assessing the complaint and approving it for filing.

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