Legislation Related to Criminal Law and Juvenile Justice Issues
HB 217, Criminal Law/Procedure Amendments (Faircloth, Stam). HB 217 would take the discretion away from judges and give to prosecutors the power to transfer 15-year-olds charged with B1 and B2 felonies to Superior Court to be tried as adults. The bill was approved by the full House, but was not taken up in the Senate.
HB 350, Court Improvement Project Juvenile Law Changes (Jordan, C. Graham). HB 350 proposes various changes to the juvenile code as proposed by the Court Improvement Project. It was signed by the Governor on June 19 and is Session Law 2013-129.
HB 385, Youth Accountability Task Force (S. Stevens). HB 385 seeks to establish the Youth Accountability Planning Task Force in the Division of Juvenile Justice, Department of Public Safety and to Appropriate Funds for a Pilot Transitional Housing Program. The Task Force would study educational services by Juvenile Justice, including the best structure for delivering the services, whether they provide adequate vocational training for the population; the adequacy of transitional housing for delinquent juveniles exiting youth development centers and the feasibility of providing transitional housing for juveniles exiting youth development centers with children transitioning from foster care to independent housing; whether the Tarheel Challenge program operated by the North Carolina National Guard should be expanded so that the program can be an alternative for all juvenile dispositional levels; the feasibility of providing tuition waivers in the Community College System for juveniles committed to youth development centers and in post‑release supervision status; and the adequacy of dispositional options available to Juvenile Court for status offenders. The bill also seeks $650,000 per year to implement a pilot program for transitional housing for juveniles exiting youth development centers. It was approved by the House Judiciary C committee and referred to Appropriations but did not proceed or make it into the budget.
HB 392, Share Arrest Warrant Status/Public Assistance (Arp, Horn, Starnes, Burr). HB 392 directs local DSS to verify through a criminal background check whether an applicant or recipient is (i) fleeing to avoid prosecution, custody, or confinement after a felony conviction, or (ii) violating a condition of probation or parole imposed under federal or State law. The background check may be done by utilizing all currently accessible databases to the extent permitted by allocated county and state resources, and the bill explicitly states that counties are not required to allocate funds for the program. The bill also calls for drug screening for Work First program assistance when a reasonable suspicion of drug use exists, and provides that an applicant or recipient is not eligible to receive benefits upon a positive screen. This last section does not become effective until 2014. As of the date of this report, the Governor has not signed this legislation.
HB 585, PREA Compliance (Lewis). HB 585 directs all correctional facilities in the state prison system to comply with the provisions of the Federal Prison Rape Elimination Act. As originally filed, HB 585 included local county facilities. That provision was removed in the House but a policy for local county facilities to comply was added back in the Senate Judiciary committee. Unfortunately, the bill did not move forward and the bill itself was used for the budget Continuing Resolution, so it will not be returning in this bill next year.
HB722, Capital Procedure/Severe Disability (Stam, McGrady, Stevens, Jordan). HB 722 seeks to amend the capital trial, sentencing, and post-conviction procedures for individuals with a severe mental disability who have been accused of a capital offense. HB 722 is a Disability Rights NC agenda bill. It was approved by the House Judiciary B subcommittee but was never heard by the full House. As the bill has an appropriation, it is eligible for the short session.
HB 725, Young Offenders Rehabilitation Act (Avila, Moffitt, Mobley, Hall). HB 725 seeks to raise the age of juvenile jurisdiction from 16 to 18-years-old for misdemeanors. The bill would not take effect until 2019. Representative Avila made a valiant effort to pass the bill through the House before the end of session. The bill did receive a favorable vote on 2d reading on the last day of session but remains on the calendar for 3d reading for the short session.
SB 45, Incapacity to Proceed (Randleman). SB 45 amends the state laws related to procedures for a defendant who does not have the mental capacity to proceed in a trial for a crime for which she is accused. The bill allows for dismissal of charges when it appears that the defendant will not gain capacity to proceed, or when the defendant has been confined or committed for a period of time equal to or in excess of the maximum permissible period of confinement for the crime or crimes charged. It also directs that the facility that performs the mental examination include treatment recommendations in the report submitted to the clerk; directs that a defendant who has been determined incapable to proceed and subject to civil commitment shall not be discharged from the hospital or outpatient commitment until again examined for capacity to proceed and a report filed with the clerk; and directs the Commission for MH/DD/SAS to adopt rules to require forensic evaluators to meet certain requirements, and to adopt guidelines for the treatment of individuals who are involuntarily committed following a determination of incapacity to proceed. The bill was signed by the Governor on April 3 and is Session Law 2013-18. Most of the bill, including the section pertaining to the dismissal of charges, becomes effective December 1, 2013, and applies to offenses committed on or after that date.
SB 91, Prohibit Expunction Inquiry (Daniel, Goolsby, Kinnaird). SB 91 would prohibit an employer or educational institution from requiring an applicant for employment or admission to disclose information concerning any arrest, criminal charge, or criminal conviction of the applicant that has been expunged; clarifies the law pertaining to administrative action that may be taken by an occupational licensing board as a result of expunged charges or convictions; and requires state and local agencies to advise applicants that they are not required to disclose information relating to an arrest, charge or convictions that has been expunged. It was signed by the Governor on May 17, 2013 and is S.L. 2013- 53.