Legislation amends juvenile ID laws

Published 8:54 am Thursday, September 7, 2023

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House Bill 186 was recently passed by the General Assembly and has been signed into law by the Governor.

The bill amends a number of laws pertaining to juvenile justice. Section 2 of the bill, renamed “Lyric and Devin’s Law” was supported as high priority by the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association. It amends the current law pertaining to the release of information about juveniles who commit serious criminal offenses.

Prior to the passage of this bill, information related to juveniles who committed a criminal offense could not be released to the public under any circumstances.

In November of 2022, an Orange County teenager fled after allegedly killing two high school classmates, Lyric Woods and Devin Clark. Because of the law prohibiting disclosure of juvenile information, the suspect’s identifying information could not be released to the public. This likely delayed his identification and subsequent arrest in Delaware, where the juvenile suspect fled.

According to the Sheriffs’ Association, there were additional cases earlier this year in Robeson County where the release of identifying information could have aided in the capture of juveniles who committed serious criminal offenses involving firearms.

The new law allows for the release of a juvenile’s first and last name, a photograph, the alleged offenses and a statement regarding the level of threat the juvenile may pose to themselves or others. This information may only be disclosed if a juvenile petition has been filed alleging that the juvenile has committed a serious criminal offense which warrants a transfer to adult court.

The information released must be removed from all social media and websites when the juvenile is taken into custody.

Sheriff Darren Campbell of Iredell County, who is also the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association’s President remarked: “This new law will allow us to show our community that we are doing our jobs to protect them from dangerous individuals. This bill will make it easier to prevent incidents like the one that occurred last year from happening in the future.”

Recent reports show a significant increase in juvenile crime in North Carolina and the passing of this bill provides law enforcement with an additional tool to apprehend dangerous criminals and protect their communities.

The changes will go into effect on Dec. 1.