- A juvenile charged with a felony must be summoned for a first appearance within 10 days of the petition issuance.
- The hearing may be continued, but only if the juvenile is not in custody.
- The purpose of the first appearance is to advise the juvenile and his or her parent or guardian of the charges, the right to counsel, and the date of the next hearing.
When a Hearing is Required
Under G.S. 7B-1808, a first appearance is required whenever a juvenile is alleged to have committed a felony, regardless of the juvenile’s age. The juvenile must be summoned to appear before the court for a first appearance within 10 days of the filing of the petition. As long as the juvenile is not in secure or nonsecure custody, the court may continue the first appearance to a time certain for good cause. See G.S. 7B-1808(a).
If the juvenile is in custody (secure or nonsecure), then the first appearance must take place at the initial hearing to determine the need for continued custody, which is independently required under G.S. 7B-1906. For more information on these hearings, see the related Juvenile entry on Secure Custody Hearings.
Court’s Duties at the Hearing
Under G.S. 7B-1808(b), the court must advise the juvenile and his or her parent or guardian of important rights, obligations, and upcoming court dates. The judge should document that the juvenile and his or her parent or guardian have been so advised by completing form AOC-J-342 (Juvenile First Appearance). At the hearing, the court must do the following:
- Inform the juvenile of the allegations in the petition.
- Determine whether the juvenile has retained counsel or has been assigned counsel and, if the juvenile is not yet represented by counsel, appoint counsel for the juvenile. The summons directed to the juvenile, AOC-J-340, will either name a court-appointed attorney for the juvenile or indicate that the juvenile will be advised promptly of the attorney’s name and address. For more information a juvenile’s right to counsel, see the related Juvenile entry on Basic Concepts (Section D).
- If the juvenile was 13, 14, or 15 at the time of the alleged felony offense, inform the juvenile of the date of the probable cause hearing, which must be within 15 days of the first appearance. For more information, see the related Juvenile entry on Probable Cause Hearings.
- Inform the juvenile’s parent, guardian, or custodian of the duty to attend all scheduled hearings and that he or she may be held in contempt for failing to attend any scheduled hearing. For more information, see the related Juvenile entry on Authority Over Parents.