North Carolina Chapter

North Carolina Chapter

Collateral Consequences in the State of North Carolina

            North Carolina’s juvenile code limits access to juvenile records by public and state entities, with little opportunity for future employers or colleges to access these records.[1]  However, a juvenile history may lead to collateral consequences because juvenile records may be disclosed under certain circumstances.

            There is no requirement for judges to discuss collateral consequences with the juvenile, the juvenile’s parents, or attorney as part of the plea or admission colloquy. 

Understanding the Justice System

The North Carolina juvenile justice system is governed statewide by the Juvenile Code.[2]  The state’s Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (“the Department”), consulting with Chief District Judges, is charged with designating local agencies with the authority to share juvenile information.[3] 

In North Carolina, the district court division of the General Court of Justice has exclusive, original jurisdiction over two defined classes of juveniles: “undisciplined juveniles” and “delinquent juveniles.”[4] Dispositions in juvenile cases are termed adjudications, not convictions,[5] and the standard of proof used for a juvenile disposition is “clear and convincing evidence.”  An “undisciplined juvenile” is a child who is at least six and less than sixteen years of age and found by a court to be unlawfully absent from school, regularly disobedient and beyond the disciplinary control of the parent or guardian, has run away from home for more than twenty-four hours, or is regularly found in restricted places.[6]  A juvenile sixteen or seventeen years old who commits any of the listed activities, except being absent from school, is also an “undisciplined juvenile.”[7]  A “delinquent juvenile” is a child between six and sixteen years of age who violates a local ordinance or state law, motor vehicle law, or is held in contempt of court.[8]  If a criminal offense is committed after the juvenile’s sixteenth birthday, the juvenile is subject to adult prosecution.[9]  Emancipated juveniles are also prosecuted as adults.[10] 

Once the district court obtains jurisdiction over a juvenile, the court retains it until the juvenile turns eighteen, or jurisdiction is terminated by court order or emancipation in the case of an undisciplined juvenile.[11]  Transfer to adult court may occur under certain circumstances.  If the juvenile turns eighteen before delinquency proceedings have been completed, the court retains jurisdiction to conduct a hearing to determine probable cause and transfer to superior court.[12]  If the juvenile was at least thirteen at the time of an alleged felony offense, the court may transfer the case to superior court.[13]  This occurs after probable cause determination by motion of the court, prosecutor, or the juvenile’s attorney.[14]  Transfer to adult court is mandatory where the district court finds probable cause to believe that the juvenile committed a Class A felony.[15]  After a juvenile has been convicted in adult court, the adult court will have jurisdiction over any subsequent offenses.[16]  The scope of collateral consequences in North Carolina depends on whether the minor is adjudicated in juvenile court or if the juvenile is prosecuted as an adult.

Notification of Collateral Consequences of Juvenile Records

              There is no statutory authority in North Carolina directing any member of the juvenile justice system, including judges, district attorneys, defense attorneys, probation officers, or police to notify youth of the collateral consequences or potential distribution of juvenile records.  The United States Supreme Court has held that defense counsel is required to notify a non-citizen client of the potential immigration consequences of a guilty plea.[17]

Treatment of Juvenile Records

At what point in the process do police records begin?

If a juvenile ten years of age or older is accused of committing a non-divertible offense, police will fingerprint and photograph the child.[18]  Non-divertible offenses include murder, first or second degree rape, first or second degree sexual offenses, arson, felony drug offenses, first degree burglary, crimes against nature, and any felony involving willful infliction of serious bodily injury upon another or is committed by use of a deadly weapon.[19]  Police will also fingerprint and photograph juveniles adjudicated delinquent for a felony offense or upon transfer to adult court.[20]

Where are juvenile records stored?

The North Carolina Juvenile Online Information Network (“NCJOIN”), is a database of arrest information maintained by the North Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice.[21]  It includes the summons, petition, custody orders, recordings of hearings, and any motions, orders, or papers filed in the juvenile proceeding.[22]  These documents may contain the juvenile’s personal contact information and details of the charges.[23]  Court records are currently available at county courthouses.  The state is also implementing a new juvenile court record database called JWise.[24]

What information does a juvenile court record contain?

The court records contain the summons, petition, custody orders, recordings of hearings, written motions, orders, and other papers filed with the court.[25]  JWise records may contain the same information.[26]  However, JWise does not contain files created before the system became operational and JWise files may otherwise be incomplete.[27]

Who can access juvenile records?

Juvenile records are not available for public inspection without a court order.[28]  Arrest information such as fingerprints and photographs are also not publicly available.[29]  Some information is available about juveniles through the North Carolina Offender Information Service, which lists offenders aged ten to seventeen.[30]  The information available through the search engine is limited to public information in the Department of Correction database.[31]

Information from juvenile court records may be shared with law enforcement officers and magistrates at the discretion of the prosecutor, but these records may not be photocopied.[32]  Fingerprints and photographs are shared with the State Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation after a juvenile, aged ten or older, is found delinquent for a felony offense.[33]  The fingerprints are placed in the Automated Fingerprint Identification System for investigation and comparison purposes.[34]  The photographs are also kept for investigation and comparison.[35]

Agencies may share juvenile record information to assess child abuse, neglect, or dependency, or provide for or arrange protective services.[36]  The information may only be shared for the protection of the juvenile, protection of another, or improvement of the juvenile’s educational opportunities.[37] 

A juvenile, a juvenile’s parents or guardians, and attorneys may examine and obtain copies of court records without a court order.[38] 

Sealing and Expunging Delinquency Files or Records

Do indigent juveniles have access to post-dispositional representation for limiting distribution of records?

There is no guarantee to post-dispositional representation for limiting distribution of records.[39]  Juveniles have a right to counsel during all proceedings, but appointment of counsel only occurs for proceedings where the juvenile is facing adjudication for delinquency, contempt, or for being undisciplined.[40]

Do juveniles have the ability to seal records?

The court can order the clerk to seal a juvenile court record.[41]  If the record, or any portion thereof, is sealed, it is placed in a separate envelope.[42]  Sealed portions of a juvenile record may only be viewed or copied with a court order.[43] 

How may sealed juvenile records affect a juvenile in the future?

              Sealed juvenile records are not completely confidential.[44]  Moreover, there are no specific criteria for when it is acceptable for a court to permit a party to view or copy the record and it is left to the court’s discretion.[45]  The record may be used in future criminal proceedings or sentencing if the records relate to felony offenses in classes A, B1, B2, C, D, or E.[46]  These files may be used to determine pretrial release or for negotiating a plea agreement.[47]  A juvenile record may also be used as impeachment material if a juvenile chooses to testify as a witness in his or her own defense, even where the records have been expunged.[48]

Do juveniles have the opportunity to have records expunged?

            If adjudicated undisciplined, a juvenile may petition the court where the adjudication occurred to expunge the record of that adjudication upon turning eighteen.[49]  There are no restrictions regarding expungement of records for a juvenile adjudicated undisciplined.

            To petition for expungement of a juvenile adjudication, the juvenile must be at least eighteen years of age and at least eighteen months past the petitioned-for adjudication without being subsequently adjudicated delinquent or convicted of a felony or misdemeanor (other than a traffic violation).[50]  In addition, felonies in classes A, B1, B2, C, D, and E are not eligible for expungement.[51]  The juvenile may also petition to expunge records relating to delinquency or undisciplined allegations that did not result in adjudication.

            Fingerprints and photographs taken at arrest are not eligible for expungement in the same manner as the records related to adjudication as undisciplined or delinquent.[52]  However, if a petition was not filed within one year of the fingerprinting and photographing, there was no probable cause found by the court,[53] or the juvenile was not adjudicated delinquent for a felony or misdemeanor offense, then the fingerprints and photographs will be destroyed.[54]

What is the procedure for expunging records?

            To expunge court records from a delinquency adjudication, the individual must first meet the criteria discussed above and petition the court where adjudicated to destroy the records.[55]  The individual must provide, (1) an affidavit swearing the individual maintained good behavior since the adjudication and has not been adjudicated or convicted since that time, (2) affidavits from two persons unrelated to the juvenile attesting to the individual’s character, (3) and a statement identifying the petition as a motion in the original case.[56]  North Carolina Court System Office of Indigent Services has an example of this petition on its website.[57]

            To expunge a record where a petition alleging delinquency was dismissed, the individual must be at least sixteen years of age.[58]  If the dismissed petition alleged that the juvenile was undisciplined, the individual must be at least eighteen years of age.[59]  A petition must be served on the chief court counselor of the district where the original case was filed, and will be granted without hearing if the chief court counselor does not object within ten days of service.[60]

How may a juvenile describe an expunged record?

Juveniles are not required to disclose information regarding an expunged proceeding.[61]  However, the juvenile may be examined about expunged proceedings if testifying as a witness in another delinquency proceeding.[62]

 Employment Opportunities

Can juvenile records be viewed for employment purposes?

Employers have no statutorily defined right to view juvenile records.

How should a juvenile respond to inquires about juvenile records on job applications?

In North Carolina, juvenile dispositions are not convictions.[63]  Thus, requirements to disclose convictions do not include juvenile dispositions.

Collateral Consequences Affecting Elementary & Secondary Education Students

            Juvenile records in North Carolina may be provided to a school in order to protect the safety of the student or others or to improve the educational opportunities for the student or others.[64]  When the documents are no longer needed for these purposes, the principle of the school must destroy or return the documents received in order to protect the confidentiality of these non-public documents.[65]  Documents should be destroyed or returned to the juvenile court counselor when the juvenile graduates or withdraws from school, is suspended or expelled, or transfers to another school.[66]

            The juvenile court counselor is also required to provide written and verbal notification to the principal of the juvenile’s school when a delinquency petition alleges a felony offense, the juvenile is transferred to adult court, the court reaches a disposition or dismissal in a case alleging delinquency for a felony offense, or where a disposition is modified or vacated in such a case.[67]  If the juvenile transfers to another school, the court counselor must notify the principal of the receiving school.[68]  Also, if a student has been convicted of a felony and transfers to a North Carolina school, parents may be required to disclose that information at registration.[69]

If suspended from school because of a juvenile allegation or adjudication as delinquent, how long can the suspension last?

            Juvenile court records received by schools pursuant to statutory notice requirements may only be used for improvement of educational opportunities or for safety purposes and may not become public record.[70]  As long as those requirements regarding the use of the juvenile records are being complied with, suspension of a youth charged with or alleged to have committed a felony is permissible and the school may suspend the student for the remainder of the school year if the felony violated the school board’s rules or if the child is considered a danger to himself or others.[71]   Suspended students may appeal suspensions greater than ten days.[72]

If a youth is adjudicated delinquent for a felony or has admitted to committing a felony, is there any effect on elementary or high school education?

If a principal or superintendent recommends it, a school board may expel a student that is fourteen years of age and is “a clear threat to the safety of students or employees.”[73] Expelled students may request reconsideration by the board, but this right is limited where a student was expelled as dangerous.[74]

Can a juvenile still be suspended or face expulsion from elementary or secondary school if records are sealed or expunged?

            Generally, a juvenile record is only available upon court order, but the court counselor may examine and obtain copies without an order.[75]  Sealed records remain unavailable to examine or copy without a court order even for notification purposes.[76]  Schools may still be able to gain access to sealed juvenile records by petitioning the juvenile court.[77]

Are there any collateral consequences affecting access to state higher education for a juvenile that has been adjudicated delinquent or charged with a crime?

For North Carolina institutions, applications vary from institution to institution, although some participate in the nationwide Common Application.  While juvenile history is not explicitly asked for, various universities and colleges in North Carolina ask questions that may lead to the disclosure of juvenile adjudication information.  These questions ask if the applicant has ever taken responsibility for a crime, whether there are criminal charges pending, whether the applicant has been disciplined at school, or whether the applicant has ever been on probation.[78] 

Because these questions do not explicitly ask about only convictions, the answers may lead to disclosure of juvenile adjudications.  

Collateral Consequences Relating to Public Benefits & Privileges

Can an arrest or an adjudication of a juvenile household member cause eviction from public housing?

            If a tenant, a member of the tenant’s household, or a guest of the tenant engages in a criminal activity that is threatening to the health and safety of others, is threatening to others’ peaceful enjoyment of the premises, or involves illegal drugs, the housing authority can bring an action to evict.[79]

Can having a juvenile record affect driving privileges?

            A juvenile court may prevent an individual from obtaining a driver’s license for as long as the juvenile court has jurisdiction over that individual.[80]

Sexual Offender Registries

When will a juvenile have to register as a sex offender?

            If transferred to adult court and convicted of a sexually violent offense, or an offense against a minor, the juvenile must register as an adult offender.[81]  If the juvenile is aged eleven or older and adjudicated delinquent for having committed a first or second degree rape or sexual offense, the court may require the juvenile to register it finds that the juvenile presents a danger to the community.[82]

Who has access to the sex offender registry?

            Juvenile registry information is not available to the public.[83]  Juvenile offenders’ registration is maintained separately and released only to law enforcement agencies and local school boards.[84]  The registry information must be forwarded to the local board where the juvenile is registered for school.[85]

Is there any relief for those who are on the sex offender registry?

Juvenile registration requirements end when the juvenile court no longer has jurisdiction over the individual.[86]

[1] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-3000(b) (2009).
[2] See N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B (2009).
[3] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-3100(a) (2009).
[4] N.C. Gen. Stat. §§ 7B-1600-1601 (2009).
[5] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-807 (2009)
[6] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-1501 (2009).
[7] Id.
[8] Id.
[9] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-1604 (2009).
[10] Id.
[11] N.C. Gen. Stat. §§ 7B-1600 to 1601 (2009).
[12] N.C. Gen. Stat. §§ 7B-1601, 7B-2200 (2009).
[13] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-2200 (2009).
[14] Id.
[15] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-2200 (2009).
[16] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-1604 (2009).
[17] Padilla v. Kentucky, 130 S. Ct. 1473, 176 L. Ed. 2d 284 (2010).
[18] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-2102(a) (2009).
[19] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-1701 (2009).  See also North Carolina Controlled Substances Act, N.C. Gen. Stat. §§ 90-86 to 90-113.8 (2009).
[20] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-2102(b) (2009); N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-2201 (2009).
[21] The North Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, NC-JOIN, (last visited May 21, 2010).
[22] See N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-3000 (2009).
[23] See N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-1802 (2009).
[24] See North Carolina Court Improvement Program 2007-2008 Activity Overview, [hereinafter NC CIP] (follow “3CIPGrantsOverview_09.doc” hyperlink).
[25] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-3000(a) (2009).
[26] See N.C. Admin. Office of the Courts, JWise Event Updates and Reports (2010), available at
[27] See NC CIP.
[28] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-3000(b) (2009).  See also Virmani v. Presbyterian Health Services Corp., 350 N.C. 449, 515 S.E.2d 675 (1999) (finding that the public’s constitutional right to attend court proceedings is subject to reasonable limitations in the interest of justice or other compelling public purposes); In re M.B., 153 N.C. App. 278, 569 S.E.2d 683 (N.C. Ct. App. 2002) (a court could not impose conditions on a probation that would open a juvenile’s records to public display).
[29] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-2102(d) (2009).
[30] North Carolina Department of Correction Offender Public Information, Offender Search, http://web (last visited May 23, 2010).
[31] North Carolina Offender Information, (last visited May 23, 2010).
[32] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-3000(b) (2009).
[33] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-2102(c) (2009).
[34] Id.
[35] Id.
[36] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-3100(a) (2009).
[37] Id.
[38] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-3000(b) (2009).
[39] See generally N.C. Gen. Stat. §§ 7B-3000 to 3001, §§ 7B-3200 to 3202 (2009).
[40] Lou Newman, Alyson Grine, & Eric Zogry, North Carolina Juvenile Defender Manual 6 (2008),
[41] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-3000(c) (2009).
[42] Id.
[43] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-3000(c) (2009).
[44] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-3000(c) (2009).
[45] Id.
[46] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-3000(f) (2009).
[47] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-3000(e) (2009).
[48] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-3201(b) (2009). See also In re S.S.T., 165 N.C. App. 533, 599 S.E.2d 59, 61 (N.C. Ct. App. 2004) (holding that a juvenile who takes the stand in his own defense can be cross-examined about any prior delinquency adjudications, including the adjudications with expunged records).
[49] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-3200(a) (2009).
[50] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-3200(b) (2009).
[51] Id.
[52] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-2102 (2009).
[53] Id.
[54] Id.
[55] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-3200(b) (2009).
[56] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-3200(c) (2009).
[57] Lou Newman, Alyson Grine, & Eric Zogry, North Carolina Juvenile Defender Manual 265-268 (2008),
[58] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-3200(h) (2009).
[59] Id.
[60] Id.
[61] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-3201(a) (2009).
[62] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-3201(b) (2009).
[63] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-2412 (2009).
[64] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 115C-404(b) (2009).
[65] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 115C-404(a) (2009).
[66] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 115C-404(c) (2009).
[67] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-3101(a) (2009).
[68] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-3101(b) (2009).
[69] See, e.g., School Admission, (follow “Series 4000 – Student Services topics” hyperlink; then, follow “4115 – School Admission” hyperlink).
[70] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 115C-404(a), (b) (2009).
[71] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 115C-404(b) (2009).
[72] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 115C-391(e) (2009).
[73] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 115C-391(d) (2009).
[74] See N.C. Gen. Stat. § 115C-391(e) (2009) (does not extend appeal rights to students expelled under the statutory option for expulsion to protect safety).
[75] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-3000(b) (2009).
[76] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-3101 (2009); N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-3000(b) (2009).
[77] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-3000(c) (2009).
[78] College Foundation of North Carolina Online Application System, (last visited May 14, 2010) (once logged in, follow links to the application for the college or university of interest); The Common Application for Undergraduate College Admission, (last visited May 14, 2010).
[79] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 157-29(e) (2009).
[80] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-2506(9) (2009).
[81] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-208.6B (2009).
[82] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-2509 (2009).
[83] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-208.29 (2009).
[84] Id. North Carolina Department of Justice Law Enforcement Liaison Section, The North Carolina Sex Offender & Public Protection Registration Programs 31 (2009).
[85] North Carolina Department of Justice Law Enforcement Liaison Section, The North Carolina Sex Offender & Public Protection Registration Programs 31 (2009).
[86] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-208.30 (2009).

Think About It - NC

A Juvenile Record Can…

PREVENT you from:

  • Getting a job
  • Getting accepted to college or graduate school
  • Joining the military
  • Becoming a U.S. citizen

You MAY be…

  • SUSPENDED or EXPELLED from school.
  • Required to register as a sex offender.
  • EVICTED from public housing. 
  • Subject to SUSPENSION of a driver’s license.

In North Carolina the following consequences are AUTOMATIC:

Your record is NOT automatically private, the following do have access:

  • School officials
  • Designated Agencies

For More Information:

N.C. Gen. Stat. § 115C-404 (2010)
N.C. Gen. Stat. § 115C-391 (2010)
N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-2509 (2010)
N.C. Gen. Stat. §157-29(e) (2010)
N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-2506(9) (2010)
42 U.S.C. § 13663(a) (2010)
42 U.S.C. § 1437n(f)(1) (2010)
24 C.F.R. § 966.4(l)(5)(i)(A) (2010)
N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-3101 (2010)
N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-3000 (2010)