Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act Changes the Adult Prosecution Age to 18

By Nathan Jarvis

Today in North Carolina, 16 and 17-year-olds are automatically prosecuted as an adult for criminal offenses. The Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act, which is effective on December 1, 2019, will change the adult prosecution age to 18 years old to align with the current policies of all other States in the United States. This means that 16 and 17-year-olds will start being prosecuted in juvenile court instead of in adult court and a youth’s split-second decision will not automatically lead to adult punishment.

Who is Not Included?

“Raise the Age” will not apply to motor vehicle offenses defined by the Motor Vehicle Act. Defense attorneys should be aware that offenses such as unauthorized use of a motor vehicle or breaking and entering a motor vehicle may trigger this exclusion. Also, some juveniles will be excluded from this Act, such as: (1) married or emancipated juveniles; (2) those that have been transferred and convicted in superior court; and (3) those that have been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor, including motor vehicle offenses, in district or superior court.

So… How Will this Help Juveniles?

Instead of originating in the adult court system, all juvenile offenses, excluding those motor vehicle offenses, will now start in juvenile court. The juvenile justice system focuses more on rehabilitation and combating recidivism as opposed to punitive punishment. This change will allow 16 and 17-year-olds to have better access to rehabilitative programs, mentors, counselors, and education. Felonies A-G will only be transferred to superior court if there is either a notice of indictment or a finding of probable cause by the court. For Class H or I felonies, transfer to superior court will require a transfer hearing. Prosecutors will have some discretion before sending juveniles to superior court. The decision for a juvenile to go to superior court will now be made based upon further investigation and discovery instead of instantly due to the charges alleged. Instead of instant punishment for the juvenile, the main objective can now be rehabilitation.

Impact of Juvenile Court

Studies have shown that a juvenile’s brain is not fully developed until the age of 25. Based on the current system, we are punishing juveniles for making decisions when their brains are not even fully developed. We are holding them to a standard of an adult with a fully functioning brain even though scientifically, that is not the case. The Act will allow juveniles to be a part of a program which is specifically tailored to how children think and learn. This can lead to lesser repeat offenses and hopefully allow juveniles the opportunity to grow from their mistakes. Youths will have the opportunity to receive treatment and continue their education. These opportunities are not always available in superior court. Juveniles aged 16 and 17 will now have a second chance to make better decisions in the future.

Parents of 16 and 17-year-olds often have not understood why their child who cannot vote, enter into military service, purchase a gun or otherwise conduct activities that are designated as “adult” activities are being charged as an adult in our criminal justice system. Finally, our legislature has acknowledged that fundamental principles of fairness require juveniles who have been deemed not mature enough for such “adult” activities should not be treated the same as adults in a criminal justice system. 

Nathan Jarvis was born and raised in the Adirondacks, a region of upstate New York. Nathan then moved to Wilmington, North Carolina where he graduated with honors from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, majoring in Political Science and minoring in International Affairs. During this time, Nathan was a member of Pi Sigma Alpha national honor society and the Pre-law Society.

After college, Nathan received his Juris Doctor, graduating with honors. During law school, Nathan was a pro bono volunteer with Legal Aid of North Carolina’s Expunction Project, a member of the Democratic and Progressive Society, a criminal law Teacher’s Assistant, and a volunteer with the YMCA of Greater Charlotte. 

Nathan first gained valuable experience as an intern with the New Hanover County’s District Attorney’s Office, where he helped prosecute property and financial crimes. During Law School, Nathan worked at the Neighborhood Advocacy Center of Charlotte, a nonprofit organization that represents indigent clients facing termination of parental rights proceedings. Prior to forming Jarvis Law, PLLC, Nathan worked in private practice where he focused on criminal defense and family law.

Medical Record Retrieval In the Modern Era: A Primer On HITECH

By Martin A. Ginsburg

The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH) of 2009 was a natural outgrowth of the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). HIPAA was designed to protect personal information while facilitating the transfer of information between the “covered entities” to improve the continuity of care across the spectrum of providers.

An unfortunate consequence of ratcheting up protections under HIPAA for personal health information was to make it more difficult for patients to access their own records. With unauthorized disclosures so broadly defined, additional consequences of non-compliance included the threat of civil penalties levied by the courts and limits being placed on reimbursements and payments by the Federal government.

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By Tina Dadio

The NCBA Paralegal Division is excited to announce the officers for the 2019-2020 NCBA bar year (July 1, 2019-June 30, 2020).

Tina Dadio, Paralegal Division Chair, Charlotte

Stephanie Durham-Rivera, Paralegal Division Vice Chair, Raleigh

Leslie Pegram, Paralegal Division Immediate Past Chair, Raleigh

Karen M. Rabenau, NCBA Board Liaison, attorney in Durham

Stephanie Elliott, Paralegal Division Secretary, Charlotte

Shawana Almendarez, Paralegal Division Treasurer, Kannapolis

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Gratitude is defined as the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. As my time as Paralegal Division Chair comes to an end, I want to express my gratitude for the opportunity to contribute to the success of the North Carolina Bar Association Paralegal Division.

I’m grateful to have been surrounded by so many amazing volunteers, leaders, mentors and friends. I am simply in awe of how our members share their time, talents and passions to the betterment of the community, profession, Division and Association. Our members are volunteers serving in various capacities including (but not limited to) Council Members, Committee Chairs, Section Liaisons, CPE planners, notaries/witnesses for Wills for Heroes, mentors, listserv participants and more. For each person who takes time to serve, thank you.

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By Alicia Mitchell-Mercer

Recently, I overheard a discussion regarding whether attorneys understand the content of paralegal programs and the meaning of the post-nominal certification credentials you increasingly see behind paralegals’ names. One person responded that many fledgling paralegals don’t understand the difference between being certified and having a certificate, so how can attorneys be expected to understand these distinctions. While these issues may not seem pressing, they are important.

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Before I started working at Beer Law Center I had no idea about the mountain of paperwork that selling alcohol entailed. I was not even aware about the particular process that businesses had to go through in order to sell alcohol. I tell people that I work with alcohol rules and regulations, because sprouting out a list of acronyms such as ABC, TTB, COLA, etc. does not make much sense to people who are not familiar with this type of work. Very few law firms are solely devoted to alcohol laws and regulations. In addition to the application process, I did not know that alcohol law can overlap and influence other areas of law.

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By Leslie Pegram

Congratulations to Lakisha Chichester who was awarded the 2019 Distinguished Paralegal Award on May 2, 2019 at the Paralegal Division Annual Meeting in Winston-Salem.

The Distinguished Paralegal Award is given to a Paralegal Division regular member who has actively participated in paralegal activities such as civic/community volunteering, paralegal leadership, paralegal education, and promotion of the paralegal profession. The award includes a membership to the NCBA Paralegal Division which now includes one section membership and 12 hours of On Demand CLE for the following year. Lakisha was recognized and presented with a plaque commemorating her receipt of the 2019 Distinguished Paralegal Award and will be recognized at the 2019 NCBA Annual Meeting Awards Dinner, Thursday, June 20 at the Biltmore House in Asheville.

Chichester is heavily involved in the paralegal professional community. She is a graduate of the Meredith College Paralegal Program, where she recently addressed the 2019 paralegal graduating class during its commencement ceremonies on May 14th. She is a North Carolina Certified Paralegal and earned her Advanced Certified Paralegal from NALA.

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Q: Name, position title and/or major duties:

A. Rachel Royal, paralegal for the attorney who represents the Wilmington City Police and Fire Departments and the attorney who handles all litigation and employment claims for the city. Royal also performs research and prepares presentations for proposals to city council for amendments to city ordinances.

Q: Firm or corporation/location:

A: Wilmington, N.C. City Attorney’s Office.

Q: Brief background of education, certification, etc.?

A: Royal was homeschooled and graduated with a high school diploma in 2006. She attended Carteret Community College 2015-2017 and graduated with honors with an Associate Degree of Applied Science in Paralegal Technology. She also received the Paralegal Graduate of the Year Award upon graduation. During her time at Carteret Community College, she was the president of the National Society of Leadership and Success for one year and the fundraising co-chair for one year.

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Imagine having  your dream job, where your management and team are amazing, you feel valued as an employee, and the perks and compensation are in line with what you think you are worth. Life is good … then, POP, your bubble bursts. You are suddenly informed that your firm is going to be restructured or your attorney decides to leave and join another firm.  Now what?

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By Alicia Mitchell-Mercer

Lack of communication is one of the most common complaints from clients. It is frequently the paralegal’s job to make sure clients are kept abreast of the latest developments in their cases. As the business world embraces various methods of communication, so must the legal field.

This idea was especially highlighted when I read a post on a legal forum about a paralegal who had mailed a notice of hearing to a client, but the client did not show up for the hearing. The paralegal was concerned that her supervising attorney was holding her responsible for the client’s no-show. She wanted opinions on whether it was really her responsibility or the client’s responsibility since she had sent the notice. She was also looking for ways to prevent this from happening again.

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