Mandatory Reporting Requirements in North Carolina
Who has a duty to report?
A private person generally has no obligation to report evidence of a crime. There may be strong practical and moral reasons to report a crime, but that’s not the same as a legal duty. However, there are certain situations in which NC citizens have a legal duty to report:
Everyone has a duty to report in cases where there is suspected:
- Child abuse and/or neglect by a parent, guardian, custodian or caretaker. ((N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-301))
- Abuse, neglect or exploitation of a disabled or elder adult by their caretaker. ((N.C. Gen. Stat. § 108A-2))
- Physicians and Hospitals must report to law enforcement certain kinds of wounds, injuries or illnesses. ((N.C. Gen Stat. § 90-21.20 – Injuries caused by weapons (guns in every case, knives and sharp objects in suspected criminal cases), poisoning (in every case) and grave bodily harm or illness (due to suspected criminal violence).))
- School Principals must report immediately to law enforcement when he or she has personal or actual knowledge that an act has occurred on school property involving certain offenses. ((N.C. Gen Stat. § 115C-288(g) – Offenses include assault, sexual assault, rape, kidnapping, indecent liberties with a minor, assault involving use of a weapon, possession of a firearm or weapon in violation of the law, possession of a controlled substance in violation of the law).))
- Photo processors or computer technicians who, within the scope of their employment, come across images of a minor (or one who reasonably appears to be a minor) engaging in sexual activity. ((N.C. Gen. Stat. § 66-67.4 – The name and address of the person requesting services shall be reported to the National Center for Missing or Exploited Children or to the appropriate law enforcement agency.))
In addition to cases of abuse, neglect, dependency, and maltreatment, there is a new duty in North Carolina to report juveniles who have been the victim of certain crimes.
Any person 18 years of age or older who knows or should have reasonably known that a juvenile has been or is the victim of a violent offense, sexual offense, or misdemeanor child abuse under G.S. 14-318.2 shall immediately report the case of that juvenile to the appropriate local law enforcement agency in the county where the juvenile resides or is found.
Definitions under N.C.G.S. 14-318.6 (Reporting to Law Enforcement)
Serious bodily injury – As defined in G.S. 14-318.4(d), which defines “serious bodily injury” as bodily injury that creates a substantial risk of death or that causes serious permanent disfigurement, coma, a permanent or protracted condition that causes extreme pain, or permanent or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ, or that results in prolonged hospitalization.
Serious physical injury – As defined in G.S. 14-318.4(d), which defines “serious physical injury” as physical injury that causes great pain and suffering. The term includes serious mental injury.
Sexually violent offense – An offense committed against a juvenile that is a sexually violent offense as defined in G.S. 14-208.6(5). This term also includes the following: an attempt, solicitation, or conspiracy to commit any of these offenses; aiding and abetting any of these offenses. The following are “sexually violent offenses” pursuant to G.S. 14-208.6(5) (including the solicitation and aiding and abetting):
- G.S. 14-27.6 - attempted rape or sexual offense;
- G.S. 14-27.21 - first-degree forcible rape;
- G.S. 14-27.22 - second-degree forcible rape;
- G.S. 14-27.23 - statutory rape of a child by an adult;
- G.S. 14-27.24 - first-degree statutory rape;
- G.S. 14-27.25(a) - statutory rape of a person who is 15 years of age or younger (defendant is at least six years older);
- G.S. 14-27.26 - first-degree forcible sexual offense;
- G.S. 14-27.27 - second-degree forcible sexual offense;
- G.S. 14-27.28 - statutory sexual offense with a child by an adult;
- G.S. 14-27.29 - first-degree statutory sexual offense;
- G.S. 14-27.30(a) - statutory sexual offense with a person 15 years of age or younger(defendant is at least six years older);
- G.S. 14-27.31 - sexual activity by a substitute parent or custodian;
- G.S. 14-27.32 - sexual activity with a student;
- G.S. 14-27.33 - sexual battery;
- G.S. 14-43.11 - human trafficking if (i) the offense is committed against a minor who is less than 18 years of age or (ii) the offense is committed against any person with the intent that they be held in sexual servitude;
- G.S. 14-43.13 - subjecting or maintaining a person for sexual servitude;
- G.S. 14-178 - incest between near relatives;
- G.S. 14-190.6 - employing or permitting minor to assist in offenses against public morality and decency;
- G.S. 14-190.9(a1) - felonious indecent exposure;
- G.S. 14-190.16 - first degree sexual exploitation of a minor;
- G.S. 14-190.17A - third degree sexual exploitation of a minor;
- G.S. 14-202.1 - taking indecent liberties with children;
- G.S. 14-202.3 - Solicitation of child by computer or certain other electronic devices to commit an unlawful sex act;
- G.S. 14-202.4(a) - taking indecent liberties with a student;
- G.S. 14-205.2(c) or (d) - patronizing a prostitute (minor or has a mental disability);
- G.S. 14-205.3(b) - promoting prostitution (minor or mental disability);
- G.S. 14-318.4(a1) - parent or caretaker commit or permit act of prostitution with or by a juvenile;
- G.S. 14-318.4(a2) - commission or allowing of sexual act upon a juvenile by parent or guardian.
Violent offense – Any offense that inflicts upon the juvenile serious bodily injury or serious physical injury by other than accidental means. This term also includes the following: an attempt, solicitation, or conspiracy to commit any of these offenses; aiding and abetting any of these offenses.
What is the “Standard of Knowledge”?
In regards to neglected or abused children, the standard of knowledge is “any cause to suspect that any juvenile is abused, neglected or dependent”.
In regards to abused or neglected disabled/elder adults, the standard of knowledge is “any reasonable cause to believe that a disabled or elder adult is in need of protective services”.
The Standard of Knowledge for reports that fall under 14-318.6 is “who knows or should have reasonably known.”
To whom should reports be made?
Reports under 7B-301 should be made to the Director of the County Department of Social Services in the county in which the child or disabled adult resides or is found. Reports may be made orally or in writing.
Reports under 14-318.6 should be made to the law enforcement agency in the county where the juvenile resides or is found.
What information must be included in the report?
The report should include pertinent information such as: the name and address of the juvenile/disabled adult; the name and address of the juvenile/disabled adult’s care-taker; the age of the juvenile/disabled adult; the names and ages of other juveniles/disabled adults in the home; the present whereabouts of the juvenile/disabled adult; the nature and extent of any injury or condition resulting from abuse, neglect, or dependency and; any other information which the person making the report believes might be helpful.
Note: In regards to suspected child abuse, if the report is made orally or by telephone, the reporter must include his or her name, address, and telephone number. By remaining anonymous, a reporter obstructs the department’s ability to seek additional information and therefore forfeits his or her right to receive notification about the outcome of the investigation.