Charges To Be Reinstated Against 16K Offenders Whose Charges Were Accidentally Dismissed

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Mecklenburg County District Attorney is addressing a system error that led to the dismissal of 16,000 charges.  Spencer B. Merriweather III tells WCCB that his office is working to reinstate those charges after his office became aware of the computer error last week.  Merriweather says the problem occurred while is office is working to prioritize cases of a more serious nature.

The District Attorney’s Office engaged in a process with the N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) last month to dismiss a number of low priority traffic and low-level misdemeanor cases, allowing prosecutors to focus resources on more serious traffic and misdemeanor matters. As soon as the computer error was detected, the DA’s Office took immediate action to halt the process, and the office has had AOC’s full support and cooperation in resolving this matter.

Since the pandemic began, the DA’s Office has worked to review pending traffic and misdemeanor cases, many of them with offense dates that date back more than three years, to determine whether they should be prioritized for prosecution or whether those cases should be dismissed to make certain that limited court time is being used to focus on priority cases. The recent increase in vehicular homicides comes at a time when, due to court closures, there are more than 10,000 pending cases in which drivers are charged with speeding 25 mph or more over the speed limit, as well as more than 1,000 pending cases in which drivers are charged with driving at speeds of 100 mph or more.  Merriweather identifies those cases as prosecution priorities. Without action to address the backlogs, it would take years to resolve currently pending cases, which would then delay all future
District Court proceedings, creating a cycle of delays in priority cases and for victims for years to come.

As a result, the DA’s Office chose not to proceed in many minor traffic citations and some low-level misdemeanors, allowing prosecutors to more timely prosecute cases that most directly impact public safety in our community, including domestic violence, dangerously excessive speeding, and DWI cases.