Sex crimes are taken seriously in North Carolina, even when minors perpetrate them. However, the system set up for juveniles is different from the system set up to address adult sex offenders, even if they share some similarities.
Many people understand that adult sex offenders who are convicted of certain crimes must register as public sex offenders, but what about juveniles who commit some of the same crimes?
There’s a lot to unpack when it comes to juvenile sex offenses in North Carolina. Here’s what you need to understand about their crimes and placement on the state sex offender registry.
When Can a Juvenile Be Ordered to Register as a Sex Offender?
In North Carolina, certain sex offenses perpetrated by juveniles can require an order from a judge to register as a sex offender. There are only certain crimes for which this can be ordered, however, and it’s up to the discretion of the judge to do so.
Juveniles over age 11 are most often ordered to register as sex offenders for crimes that involve:
- First-degree forcible rape
- Second-degree forcible rape
- First-degree forcible sexual offense
- Second-degree forcible sexual offense
- Attempted sexual offense or rape
- First-degree statutory rape
- Second-degree statutory rape
- First-degree statutory sexual offense
A juvenile is never required to register as a sex offender based on their conviction alone. A judge must order them to register, and judges are not required to make them do so. If a juvenile is eligible to register as a sex offender in the state, then the court might order registration if it is deemed appropriate.
How does a judge decide if they should order a juvenile to register as a sex offender? They must take into account if the juvenile is considered to be a threat to the community at large. If they do order it, then the convicted juvenile must register with the sheriff’s office.
What About Juveniles Tried as Adults?
If a juvenile is transferred from juvenile court for one of the sex crimes for which registration as a sex offender is required, then they are subject to the same requirements as an adult offender.
What Does It Mean for a Juvenile to Register as a Sex Offender?
If the court orders that a juvenile offender must register as a sex offender in North Carolina, then they must:
- Inform the juvenile of this requirement
- Have them sign an acknowledgment that they received the notice to register
- Get all the required information from the offender
The court then files that information with the sheriff’s office, and it’s included in the Criminal Information Network.
It should be noted that this information does not then become a part of the adult sex offender registry. Instead, it is maintained on a different registry just for juveniles.
The information on the juvenile registry is not public, and it isn’t available online or in any other form to the public at large. Law enforcement agencies have access to the information as do local education boards. If the offender is enrolled in school, then the school board is notified.
For juveniles on the sex offender registry, they must let the court know if they change addresses. Every six months, the information on the registry must be verified by the court. They will no longer be required to register once they turn 18 or when the jurisdiction of the court ends, whichever happens first.