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North Carolina Court Records

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What are North Carolina Juvenile Court Records?

The juvenile court process begins when an individual or a law enforcement agent files a complaint against a juvenile for delinquent behavior. In North Carolina, a juvenile is a child under the age of 18 who is unmarried, unemancipated, and not enrolled in the military. Law enforcement officers can take a delinquent juvenile into temporary custody if:

  • The age has cause to believe that the juvenile is undisciplined.
  • The juvenile escaped a residential facility.
  • The officer witnessed the juvenile committing a crime.

Temporary custody only lasts about 12 hours. It may last no more than 24 hours if any of the 12 hours fall on a weekend or holiday. The arresting officer must also inform the juvenile’s parents or guardians.

Juvenile court counselors review complaints in an intake meeting. The meeting involves a meeting with the juvenile and the juvenile’s guardians or parents. Attendance is mandatory; if the juvenile or the juvenile’s parents or guardians fail to attend, the juvenile court counselors will send the case to court. After the intake meeting, the juvenile counselors decide whether to divert the case, dismiss the complaint, or file a petition.

If the juvenile court counselors choose to divert a complaint, the court counselor may refer the juvenile to a counseling program, community service, mediation, and restitution. The juvenile and the juvenile’s guardians or parents must sign a diversion contract and abide by the contract terms. If the juvenile completes the diversion program, the court may dismiss the complaint. However, if the juvenile fails to comply with the contract terms, juvenile court counselors will send the case to court.

What Information is Contained in a North Carolina Juvenile Record?

Juvenile records in North Carolina contain information about a juvenile’s journey through the juvenile justice system. It includes records of information filed in juvenile case proceedings, including:

  • Complaints
  • Petitions
  • Referrals
  • Orders
  • Summons
  • Petitions
  • Motions
  • Custody orders
  • Hearing recordings
  • Arrest records

The court maintains juvenile records; Court Clerks are the court’s record custodians. Record custodians make juvenile records available to authorized persons on request. When children above the age of 10 are charged with felony offenses, the court takes the children’s fingerprints and photographs. However, the fingerprints and photographs are stored separately from juvenile records.

What Cases are Heard by North Carolina Juvenile Courts?

North Carolina defines a juvenile as a child under 18 years old who is not married, in the military, or emancipated. The North Carolina juvenile court has jurisdiction over all juvenile cases. For delinquency and undisciplined cases, the juvenile court has jurisdiction over cases of juveniles between six (6) and 17 years old. For delinquent juveniles who are at least 17 years old at the time of the offense, the court’s jurisdiction continues until the juvenile is 20 years old or until the court terminates it. The North Carolina juvenile court also has jurisdiction over custodians, guardians, or parents of undisciplined and delinquent juveniles whom the court has served a summons.

However, 16 - 17-year-olds charged with motor vehicle offenses and violent felony crimes are charged to the adult court. Additionally, persons under the juvenile court’s jurisdiction who commit criminal offenses after the age of 18 will be tried in the adult criminal court.

Who is Eligible to View Juvenile Records in North Carolina?

Under N. C. Gen. Stat. §7B–3000, juvenile records are confidential, and the court withholds the records from public inspection. However, there are exemptions to this law. Authorized persons who may view juvenile records in North Carolina include:

  • Persons with a court order
  • The record’s subject
  • The juvenile’s attorney
  • The juvenile’s custodian, guardian, or parent
  • Authorized representatives of the juvenile’s custodian, guardian, or parent
  • The prosecutor
  • Probation officers
  • Court counselors
  • North Carolina magistrates and law enforcement officers
  • The juvenile’s school principal
  • Protective services, abuse and neglect investigation agencies

If a juvenile charged with a felony escapes from detention, law enforcement agencies may make the juvenile’s name and photograph available to the public, especially if law enforcement considers the juvenile a threat to others and self.

How to Find Juvenile Records in North Carolina

To find physical copies of juvenile records in North Carolina, interested parties must submit written requests to the court clerk in the county where the court adjudicated the juvenile delinquent. Requesting parties must be able to provide relevant identification and a reason for the request. Additionally, attorneys and prosecutors may search juvenile case records through CIPR or JWISE.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.

Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

Can You Lookup North Carolina Juvenile Records Online?

Attorneys and prosecutors may look up North Carolina through the JWISE and CIPR. Outside these platforms, it is impossible to find North Carolina juvenile records online. Other authorized parties may access juvenile court records by contacting the Clerk of Court in the county where the court adjudicated the juvenile delinquent. North Carolina juvenile records are confidential and inaccessible to unauthorized parties. Therefore, unauthorized persons may not look up North Carolina juvenile records online.

Do North Carolina Juvenile Records Show up on Background Checks?

Juvenile records are not criminal records; therefore, juvenile records are not included in personal criminal history records. Although juvenile records are confidential, juvenile records show up in authorized background checks. However, juvenile records that the court has expunged or sealed do not show up in background checks.

Parties interested in getting personal juvenile records sealed or expunged must file a petition with the court. North Carolina does not automatically seal or expunge juvenile records. For dismissed petitions, the juvenile who is the subject of the record may petition the court for expungement when the juvenile turns 16. For cases where the court adjudicates the juvenile delinquent, the juvenile may petition the court for expungement at the age of 18.

Petitioners may be eligible for juvenile record expungement if:

  • The offense is not a Class A-E felony
  • 18 months have elapsed since the court released the juvenile from probation or jurisdiction
  • Since the court’s adjudication, the juvenile has been on good behavior
  • The court has not thereafter convicted the juvenile of any offense other than a traffic violation

How Long are Juvenile Records Kept in North Carolina?

Although juvenile records are confidential and not available for public inspection or copying, North Carolina does not automatically expunge or seal juvenile records. In North Carolina, juvenile records are valid until the records are sealed or expunged. Record subjects must petition the court to seal or expunge the records.

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