In the Matter of W.M.C.M., 2021-NCCOA-139 (April 20, 2021)

There is a dissent.

Facts: The juvenile, Walter, was adjudicated delinquent for felony breaking and entering and breaking and entering a motor vehicle after making admissions to both offenses. During the colloquy prior to making the admission, the judge asked Walter, “[y]ou also understand you have the right to ask witnesses questions during a hearing? Walter replied “yes.” The adjudication was entered on an Arraignment Order and Transcript of Admission by Juvenile form. The court wrote “based upon the juvenile’s admission and the evidence presented by the DA, the court finds beyond a reasonable doubt that the juvenile is adjudicated delinquent.” The court subsequently committed Walter to the YDC and detailed Walter’s delinquency, history of criminal acts, and violent and aggressive behavior in the Disposition and Commitment order.


Delinquency Admission:

Walter asserted that the warning required to be provided by the court per G.S. 7B-2407(a)(4), “Informing the juvenile that by the juvenile's admissions the juvenile waives the juvenile's right to be confronted by the witnesses against the juvenile;” was not provided prior to his admission. The court found that the court asked Walter the questions from Form AOC-J-410 nearly verbatim and that the trial court gave a broader explanation of his confrontation rights than the exact language in the statute. The statute does not require that the exact statutory language be used. Instead, it requires that the court “orally and clearly inform the juvenile of his rights.” Slip op, at ¶ 24. Walter did not show any error, prejudice, or violation of his confrontation right.

Walter’s rights were protected by the court and his admission was knowing and voluntary. The court addressed all six prongs required by G.S. 7B-2407(a), broke down the language so Walter could better understand and respond affirmatively to each question, and fully informed him of his rights. Walter then expressly agreed to take the plea offer and admit responsibility and he signed the Form AOC-J-410.

Reliance on non-persuasive authority:

Walter relied on an unpublished opinion to assert that the adjudication order was insufficient. The nonbinding conclusion in an unpublished opinion does not impose a requirement for factual findings in adjudication orders.

Adjudication Order:

The court is not required to use the AOC form Adjudication Order. The court’s order met all of the requirements of G.S. 7B-2411. It “was written, indicated the date of the offenses, the felony classification of the offenses, and the date of adjudication. The trial court’s order contained factual findings including the juvenile’s affirmative admission of responsibility to the charges of felony breaking and entering and felony breaking and entering of a motor vehicle.” Slip op. at ¶ 35.

 Disposition Order:

The trial court made findings of fact as required by G.S. 7B-2501(c), including naming the offenses that Walter admitted to and noting an escalation in ongoing criminal activity, checking box nine of the disposition order, referencing Walter’s increasingly aggressive and assaultive behaviors towards himself and others, finding that the court made several attempts to work with Walter, noting an increase in violent behavior and flight despite effective interventions and placements, discussing additional time afforded to the juvenile prior to disposition to give him time to comply, listing Walter’s admissions and AWOLs and placement and court dates, and referencing some progress as after recent service provision. The trial court also relied on 12 reports from organizations that has worked with Walter in the past. There was no abuse of discretion at disposition.

Admission Colloquy
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