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The Interstate Compact for Juveniles (ICJ) – North Carolina Criminal Law

Imagine a case involving a juvenile who lives in North Carolina and is in secure custody because of a charge of an act of delinquency in New York comes across your desk. You look to the Juvenile Code to read the statute that governs interstate issues. You find Article 40 of Chapter 7B, “Interstate Compact for Juveniles.” But, after reading Article 40, you realize that there is no statutory guidance regarding the actual procedure in the case.  Where do you turn? The law regarding interstate matters in juvenile justice cases is perhaps the best kept secret in juvenile law. The actual substance can only be found in the Rules promulgated by the Interstate Commission for Juveniles.

What Mattered Are Governed by the ICJ?

The following five general categories of cases involving juveniles who are from another state and are in North Carolina are governed by the ICJ. Cases in which juveniles

  1. have run away from another state to North Carolina (the ICJ refers to these youth as runaways);
  2. are accused of acts of delinquency or status offenses (called undisciplined cases in North Carolina) in another state and are in North Carolina (the ICJ refers to these youth as accused delinquents and accused status offenders);
  3. are on probation or parole in another state and run away to North Carolina (the ICJ refers to these youth as absconders);
  4. are in custody in another state and escape to North Carolina (the ICJ refers to these youth as escapees); and
  5. are placed on probation in another state and move to North Carolina (the ICJ refers to these as transfer of supervision cases). ICJ Rules, Sections 400 – 700.

Where Is the Actual Procedural Law?

The thirteen Articles that make up the ICJ are codified as Article 40 of Chapter 7B of the General Statutes. Those Articles establish a purpose for the ICJ, create definitions for terms used in the ICJ, and create the structure for the Interstate Commission for Juveniles (hereinafter Commission).

Article IV delineates the powers and duties of the Commission, including “[t]o promulgate rules to effect the purposes and obligations as enumerated in this Compact, which shall have the force and effect of statutory law and shall be binding in the compacting states to the extent and in the manner provided in this Compact.” G.S. 7B-4001, Article IV, (a)(2). Therefore, the ICJ Rules created by the Commission have the force and effect of law—even though they are not codified in North Carolina statute.

The ICJ Rules can be found online on the Commission website. The website also includes a bench book for judges and court personnel and advisory opinions issued by the Commission.

North Carolina Structure

Article IX of the ICJ requires that every member state create a State Council for Interstate Juvenile Supervision (hereinafter Council). That Council must include a Compact Administrator and a Deputy Compact Administrator. G.S. 7B-4002 implements the ICJ in North Carolina by establishing the North Carolina State Council for Interstate Juvenile Supervision. It also designates the Secretary of Public Safety or the Secretary’s designee as the Compact Administrator. North Carolina’s ICJ staff are therefore housed within the Department of Public Safety. You can find their contact information here.

It is important to know how to contact the state office because ICJ Rule 2-104(1) requires that  “[a]ll communications between states, whether verbal or written, on ICJ issues shall be transmitted between the respective ICJ Offices.” Communication between local jurisdictions is allowed, but only after approval from both state offices. ICJ Rule 2-104(2).

The Language of the ICJ

The ICJ Rules set out procedure for returning justice-involved juveniles and runaway juveniles to their home state. The Rules also establish procedures for the transfer of probation supervision to North Carolina when a juvenile has been adjudicated delinquent in another state and moves to North Carolina. These procedures involve actions by both North Carolina and the other state. It is essential to understand how the ICJ refers to each state to understand each state’s obligations in these circumstances. ICJ Rule 1-101 defines the terms used in the ICJ, including:

  • Demanding State: the state seeking the return of a juvenile with or without delinquency charges.
  • Holding State: the state where the juvenile is located.
  • Home State: the state where the legal guardian or custodial agency is located.
  • Receiving State: a state to which a juvenile is sent for supervision under provisions of the ICJ.
  • Sending State: a state which has sent or is in the process of sending a juvenile to another state for supervision under the provisions of the ICJ.

Which State’s Laws Apply?

Voluntary and Involuntary Returns

Section 600 of the ICJ Rules sets out the procedure for the return of out-of-state juveniles and runaways, including youth accused of acts of delinquency in other states. The Rules establish a process for when the juvenile is willing to return voluntarily and when the juvenile is not willing to return voluntarily.

Questions can arise regarding whether another state’s request for the return of a juvenile who is accused of an act of delinquency must be honored when the juvenile would not be subject to juvenile jurisdiction in North Carolina for the alleged offense. One of the purposes of the ICJ is to “[r]eturn juveniles who have run away, absconded, or escaped from supervision or control, or have been accused of an offense to the state requesting their return.” G.S. 7B-4001, Article I, (b)(3). The jurisdictional rules of the demanding state govern whether a juvenile is an accused juvenile. North Carolina’s rules regarding juvenile jurisdiction are not relevant.

The Court of Appeals of Washington examined this issue in State v. Cook, 115 Wash.App.829 (2003). In that case, a warrant was issued in Texas for Cook for an offense he allegedly committed when he was 14-years-old. At the time the warrant was issued, Cook was an adult who lived in Washington. The King County juvenile court in Washington ordered Cook’s return to Texas as required by the ICJ. Cook appealed that order, arguing that the ICJ did not apply to him because he was not a juvenile.  The Court of Appeals of Washington held that the ICJ did apply because Cook’s case was correctly under juvenile jurisdiction according to Texas law. “Further scrutiny of the policies or laws of the demanding state is not the task of Washington courts. A person who is subject to the original, exclusive jurisdiction of a juvenile court is a juvenile for purposes of the Compact.” Id. at 833.

While the demanding state’s law applies regarding juvenile jurisdiction, the holding state’s law governs regarding the place of confinement when a juvenile is held pending their return. ICJ Rule 7-105(1.) states “[w]here circumstances require the holding/receiving court to detain any juvenile under the ICJ, the type of secure facility shall be determined by the laws regarding the age of majority in the holding/receiving state.” North Carolina’s law regarding place of confinement for people under the age of 18 therefore applies to people being held securely pending return to the demanding state under the ICJ. Anyone under the age of 18 must be held in juvenile detention. Anyone age 18 or over should be held in a jail.

Probation Supervision

Whether the law of the sending state or the law of the receiving state applies to matters that are transferred for probation supervision varies under the ICJ Rules. As a threshold matter, the transfer of supervision does not transfer jurisdiction of the underlying delinquency proceeding to the receiving state. The delinquency proceeding remains under the jurisdiction of the sending state. The age of majority and the duration of supervision are determined by the law of the sending state. ICJ Rule 5-101(7.). The sending state is also generally the state with the sole authority to terminate the supervision. Some limited exceptions to this sole authority are provided in the ICJ Rules. ICJ Rule 5-104. So, if North Carolina is the receiving state, its courts do not have jurisdiction over the underlying proceeding. If North Carolina is the sending state, the North Carolina court continues to exercise jurisdiction over the case applying North Carolina laws even though the juvenile is not physically present in the state.

At the same time, the ICJ Rules allow the receiving state to use its own standards for supervision when supervising a youth transferred from another state. ICJ Rule 5-101(1.). If North Carolina is the receiving state, it may impose conditions on the juvenile if those conditions would have been imposed on a juvenile whose case was adjudicated in North Carolina and may enforce the terms of probation. ICJ Rule 5-101(2.), (3.). The ICJ Rules also require application of the juvenile sex offender registration laws of the receiving state. ICJ Rule 4-103(5.). Because North Carolina’s juvenile sex offender registration requirements are triggered by the court exercising jurisdiction over the delinquency case (G.S. 14-208.26), a case transferred to North Carolina for supervision would not fall under the North Carolina juvenile sex offender registration requirements. However, if probation supervision of a juvenile adjudicated delinquent in North Carolina is transferred to another state, the other state’s juvenile sex offender registration requirements will apply.

What Forms Should Be Used?

The Commission has a series of approved and optional forms for use in ICJ cases. The forms can be found here. There are no forms issued by the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts for ICJ cases.

While many of Commission forms relate to the transfer of supervision and will therefore only be used by the Division of Juvenile Justice, there are forms that can be used to initiate district court actions in ICJ cases. These include:

  • Petition for Hearing on Requisition for Escapee, Absconder, or Accused Delinquent. This petition can be used to initiate a court proceeding in the holding state (the state where the juvenile is found) for the return of an out-of-state juvenile with an active delinquency case (either pre- or post-adjudication). The petition is filed by and through the Compact Administrator. It requests an order for the apprehension and confinement of the juvenile pending their transfer and seeks the entry of a court order finding in favor of a requisition for the juvenile filed by the home state under the ICJ (the ICJ requires a requisition process for an involuntary return). The form petition addresses venue and service of process. It provides a template for a statement of facts and the ICJ cause of action.
  • Petition for Hearing on Requisition for Runaway Juvenile. This petition can be used to initiate a court proceeding in the holding state (the state where the runaway is found) for the return of an out-of-state runaway. The petition is filed by and through the Compact Administrator. It requests an order for the apprehension and confinement of the juvenile pending their transfer and seeks the entry of a court order finding in favor of a requisition for the runaway juvenile filed by the home state under the ICJ. The form petition addresses venue and service of process. It also provides a template for a statement of facts.

The forms section of the Commission website also includes a petition for requisition to return a runaway juvenile (for use by a legal guardian or custodial agency to petition the home state to issue a requisition for the return of a juvenile who has run away to another state), a juvenile rights form for consent for voluntary return (to be used by the court to inform the juvenile of their rights before the juvenile consents to a voluntary return to the home/demanding state), and orders for setting a hearing for requisition for an escapee, absconder, or accused juvenile and for a runaway juvenile.

In practice, undisciplined petitions are sometimes filed to initiate a juvenile court proceeding for the return of an out-of-state runaway who is found in North Carolina. See G.S. 7B-1501(27) (definition of “undisciplined juvenile”), -1803. Because venue for an undisciplined matter lies in the district where the offense is alleged to have occurred (G.S. 7B-1800(a)), the appropriate venue for an undisciplined case is the place from which the juvenile ran. In interstate cases, this would be the juvenile’s home state. The forms provided by the Commission provide the more appropriate legal framework for a juvenile court in North Carolina to obtain jurisdiction and process an ICJ case related to an out-of-state runaway who is found in North Carolina.

There are many more details in the ICJ Rules that are beyond the scope of this blog. For a deeper dive into the procedure to return an out-of-state runaway, see a previous blog by LaToya Powell. As always, if you have comments or questions on this topic, you can reach me at [email protected].

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