This week, Gov. Roy Cooper signed into law House Bill 186, which was passed by the North Carolina General Assembly.
Among other changes to state laws related to juvenile justice, Section 2 – also known as “Lyric and Devin’s Law” – was backed in a major way by the NC Sheriff’s Association. So, there are a lot of law enforcement officials across the state who are happy right now. That section of the new law amends current state law regarding the release of information about juveniles who commit serious criminal offenses.
Before House Bill 186 was signed into law, information regarding juveniles who committed a criminal offense couldn’t be released to the public under any circumstances. Now, however, there are some situations when that information can be made public.
The law, which applies to those under 18 years of age, will go into effect on December 1, 2023.
The NC Sheriff’s Association provided a summary of the impetus behind the law as well as the origin of the name of Section 2.
“In November of 2022,” the Association states in a Friday, Aug. 25 press release, “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. 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 aims to fix this problem. It allows for release of a juvenile’s first and last name, a photograph and a list of the alleged offenses committed by the youngster.
In addition, state law enforcement agencies can now put out a statement regarding the “level of threat” the youngster might pose to themselves or others.
Of course, there are still serious restrictions on when the information can be made public. It can only be disclosed if a juvenile petition has been filed stating that the person has committed a serious crime that justifies a transfer to adult court.
Also, once the juvenile is taken into custody, the information released must be removed from all social media and websites.
Many law enforcement officials statewide applauded the change in the law, calling it a way to help keep the public safe at a time when recent reports show a significant increase in juvenile crime in the state.