in the Court of Appeals 13 November 2018.
by juvenile from order entered 30 January 2018 by Judge Louis
A. Trosch in Mecklenburg County No. 17 JB 396 District Court.
Attorney General Joshua H. Stein, by Assistant Attorney
General Marie H. Evitt, for the State.
Appellate Defender Glenn Gerding, by Assistant Appellate
Defender Hannah H. Love, for juvenile.
Miller appeals from an order committing him to
placement in a youth development center and transferring his
legal custody to the Mecklenburg County Department of Social
Services, Youth and Family Services Division. The trial court
was presented with evidence that Evan was mentally ill and
failed to refer him to the area mental health services
director for appropriate action as prescribed by statute. As
a result, we vacate the trial court's order and remand
for further action.
July 2017, the State filed petitions against Evan Miller for
common-law robbery and being an undisciplined juvenile. The
State filed two more petitions against Evan on 6 September
2017 alleging common-law robbery and conspiracy to commit
common-law robbery. Evan admitted to the offense of
conspiracy to commit common-law robbery in exchange for
dismissal of all other charges at a delinquency hearing on 23
October 2017 in Mecklenburg County District Court before the
Honorable David H. Strickland. Judge Strickland entered a
Level 2 disposition and placed Evan on probation for 12
months. The conditions of Evan's probation were to: (1)
"Remain on good behavior and not violate any . . .
law"; (2) "Not violate any reasonable and lawful
rules of the juvenile's parent, guardian, or
custodian"; and (3) "Attend school each and every
day, all classes, not have any unexcused tardies, and not be
suspended or excluded from school."
motion for hearing was filed on 14 November 2017 alleging
that Evan violated his probation by being suspended from
school, together with leaving his home without permission and
being away for up to three days. The motion for review was
continued until January 2018. The Honorable Louis A. Trosch
heard the motion for review on 26 January 2018. At the
hearing, Evan admitted the probation violations. That same
day, Judge Trosch entered a Level 3 disposition and committed
Evan to a Youth Development Center for a minimum period of
six months, and continuing until his eighteenth birthday at
the maximum. Judge Trosch also ordered that the Mecklenburg
County Department of Social Services, Youth and Family
Services Division assume custody of Evan. Evan filed timely
notice of appeal on 2 February 2018.
argues on appeal that the trial court erred by: (1) entering
a disposition against Evan without referring him to the area
mental health services director for appropriate action after
being presented with evidence that Evan was mentally ill; (2)
making a finding that Evan had been involved in criminal
activity while on probation when no competent evidence
supported that finding; and (3) transferring Evan's legal
custody to the Department of Social Services. After review,
we conclude that the trial court failed to refer Evan to the
area mental health services director, as prescribed by
statute, after being presented with evidence that Evan was
Juvenile Code governs management of cases involving
undisciplined and delinquent juveniles. See N.C.
Gen. Stat. §§ 7B-1500 to 7B-2706 (2017). The
purpose of these procedures is to, inter alia,
"deter delinquency and crime, including patterns of
repeat offending . . . [b]y providing appropriate
rehabilitative services to juveniles." Id.
§ 7B-1500(2)(b). Disposition of cases involving
juveniles should "[p]rovide the appropriate
consequences, treatment, training, and rehabilitation to
assist the juvenile toward becoming a nonoffending,
responsible, and productive member of the community."
Id. § 7B-2500(3). When a juvenile comes before
a trial court, "the court may order that the
juvenile be examined by a physician, psychiatrist,
psychologist, or other qualified expert as may be
needed for the court to determine the needs of the
juvenile." Id. § 7B-2502(a) (emphasis
added). However, when evidence of mental health issues arise,
the authority to order the evaluation of a juvenile by
certain medical professionals is no longer discretionary, but
If the court believes, or if there is evidence presented to
the effect that the juvenile is mentally ill or is
developmentally disabled, the court shall refer the
juvenile to the area mental health, developmental
disabilities, and substance abuse services director for
appropriate action. . . . The area mental health,
developmental disabilities, and substance abuse director
shall be responsible for arranging an ...