( Prepared by the CMPD Police Attorney's Office)
(Note: The following is not intended to be an exhaustive list of issues or answers involving juveniles but is intended to offer some basic information. If you or your family is faced with a matter involving legal issues concerning child custody, child support or related issues, it is advisable to consult the advice of an attorney.)
Child Abuse & Neglect:
How does NC Law define "Child Abuse"?
How does the law define "neglect"?
How and when do I report suspected abuse, neglect or dependency?
What is a delinquent juvenile?
What constitutes an "undisciplined juvenile" under North Carolina law?
Is there a criminal offense in North Carolina for Contributing to delinquency?
What should I do if my child has runaway from home? Do I have to wait twenty-four (24) hours before calling the police?
What constitutes "child abduction" in North Carolina?
Is it a crime to take a child out of state if a custody order is in place?
Obtaining Police Records:
Are police reports regarding juveniles' public record?
Question- How does North Carolina law define "child abuse"?
Answer- An abused child is one under the age of 18 whose parent, guardian, custodian or caretaker:
- Inflicts or allows another to inflict serious physical injury to the child. (not accidental)
- Creates or allows a substantial risk of physical injury to the child
- Uses or allows another to use cruel or grossly inappropriate procedures or devices to modify behavior.
- Commits, permits or encourages the commission of a rape, sex offense, crime against nature, incest, preparation of obscene photos, slides, etc. (Not a complete list.)
- Creates or allows serious emotional damage;
- Encourages, directs or approves of delinquent acts involving moral turpitude committed by the child.
- Child abuse may also be a criminal violation.
Question- How does North Carolina law define child neglect?
Answer- A neglected juvenile is one who:
- Does not receive proper care, supervision, or discipline from the juvenile's parent, guardian, custodian, or caretaker; or
- Who has been abandoned;
- Who is not provided necessary medical care; or
- Who lives in an environment injurious to the child's welfare; or
- Who has been placed for care or adoption in violation of the law.
Question- How and when do I report suspected abuse, neglect or dependency.
- North Carolina law requires every person to report suspected abuse, neglect or dependency.
- The report is made to the Department of Social Services in the county in which the suspected abuse, neglect or dependency occurred.
- The report may be made by telephone, in writing or orally.
- The reporting person may remain anonymous and the reporting person has immunity for making the report.
- Within 5 days of receiving the report, the Department of Social Services must give written notice to the reporting person regarding the status of the investigation.
Question- What is a delinquent juvenile?
Answer- A delinquent juvenile is one who has reached the age of six but is not yet 16 years of age and is alleged to have committed a crime, infraction, motor vehicle law violation or local ordinance.
Question: What constitutes an "undisciplined juvenile" under North Carolina law?
- A juvenile who is 6 years of age and under 16 and is:
- Unlawfully absent from school; or
- Regularly disobedient to and beyond the disciplinary control of the juvenile's parent, guardian, or custodian; or
- Regularly found in places where it is unlawful for a juvenile to be; or
- Has run away from home for more than 24 hours.
- NOTE: A juvenile may be reported "missing" to law enforcement without a time limitation.
- A juvenile who is 16 or 17 years of age is undisciplined for the same behavior described above except for the absence from school.
- When a juvenile reaches the age of 16, North Carolina law does not require school attendance.
- No police report is needed.
- The parent or guardian should be instructed by the officer to call the Department of Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention at 704-330-4338 to request an appointment regarding a juvenile exhibiting undisciplined behavior (not criminal law violation, but behavior issues in the home). Business hours are Monday through Friday 0800 to 1700 hours except holidays. Either request to speak with an Intake counselor or leave a message for an Intake counselor if they call after hours.
- The Intake counselor will set up a time for the parent or guardian to come to their office to address the issue. .
Question: Is there a criminal offense in North Carolina for Contributing to delinquency?
Answer- Yes. North Carolina has a criminal statute prohibiting:
"Contributing to delinquency and neglect by parents and others." It states the following:
- Person to be charged must be at least 16 years of age and;
- Knowingly or willfully,
- Cause, encourage or aid any juvenile to be in a place or condition,
- Or to commit an act whereby the juvenile could be adjudicated delinquent, undisciplined, abused or neglected.
- It is not required that the juvenile actually be adjudicated in order for the person to be charged.
- A violation of this statute is a Class 1 misdemeanor.
Question: What should I do if my child has runaway from home? Do I have to wait twenty-four (24) hours before calling the police?
Answer: You may call the police as soon as you believe your child has run away from home and make a "missing persons" report. There is no time requirement for a missing person report to be taken. A missing person's detective will be assigned the case and will attempt to locate your child. The detective will ask for a recent photograph of your child to assist in locating him/her.
- The parent or guardian completes a Missing Person report with the police department.
- The parent or guardian should be instructed by the officer to call the Department of Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention at 704-330-4338 to request an appointment regarding a runaway. Business hours are Monday through Friday 0800 to 1700 hours except holidays. Either request to speak with an Intake counselor or leave a message for an Intake counselor if they call after hours.
- The Intake counselor will set up a time for the parent or guardian to come to their office to address the issue.
Question: What constitutes "child abduction" in North Carolina?
Answer: North Carolina law states that it is a Class F felony for a person:
- Without legal justification or defense,
- To abducts or induce,
- Any minor child who is at least four years younger than the person,
- To leave any person, agency, or institution lawfully entitled to the child's custody, placement, or care.
- This does not apply to any public officer or employee in the performance of his or her duty.
Question: Is it a crime to take a child out of state if a custody order is in place?
Answer: Yes. North Carolina law states that it is a Class I felony if:
- A federal or state court has awarded custody of a child under age 16, and,
- A person with the intent to violate that court order,
- Takes or transports or causes to be taken or transported,
- Any child from any point within North Carolina for any point outside North Carolina or keeps any such child outside the limits of North Carolina.
- Evidence that the child is kept outside the limits of the state in violation of the court order for a period in excess of 72 hours is prima facie evidence that he person charged intended to violate the order at the time of the taking.
Question: Are police reports regarding juveniles' public record?
Answer: No. North Carolina law states that all law enforcement records and files concerning juveniles are to be withheld from public inspection and therefore, they are not public records. (Publication of pictures of runaway juveniles is permitted with the permission of the parents.)