Typically, there is nothing fast about the criminal justice system and nowhere is that more present than a murder case. If you have a loved one that is fighting a murder charge in the state of North Carolina, they are going to be in it for the long haul. In this blog we will talk about fighting a murder charge, and how long it takes. Like all our blogs, this is intended for general informational purposes only and not as a substitute for the advice and counsel of a criminal defense attorney.
It takes a long time to get information in a murder case
Murder cases are the highest level of charges in state criminal law. Accordingly, they are the most thoroughly investigated by law enforcement. With many crimes, once someone is charged, the bulk of the investigation has been completed or will soon be completed thereafter. With a murder charge, the investigation continues after the person is charged and law enforcement continues to gather as much evidence as they can.
Because of the sheer volume of evidence that is being gathered, it takes a long time for law enforcement to turn everything over to the District Attorney’s office. Often, the prosecutor in the District Attorney’s office asks for quite a bit of follow up once they read the file. Once this entire process is completed, that is when the prosecutor can turn it over to the defense in the form of discovery. That is why it takes so long.
It is also important to note that even after discovery is given, the investigation will continue and there will often be follow-up discovery. For these reasons it is very important to be patient when fighting a murder charge.
It takes a long time to get a court date in a murder case
Unlike many crimes, in North Carolina the defendant will not make many court appearances for a murder case. The defend typically will not be present for a Rule 24 setting, a first setting, or a second setting. The defendant is present for Bond Hearings, the arraignment, and the trial.
Typically, other than the first appearance, the first time someone will be in court for their murder case is at a bond hearing. Often the defense attorney will advise you to wait until after discovery has been received to schedule a bond hearing, which itself takes a long time. The second court appearance is typically the arraignment which generally takes a month or several months after you have a plea offer. Which is usually after you receive discovery.
If the defendant pleas guilty then that will be the last court appearance if the defendant pleads not guilty than a trial will be scheduled in the future. Sometimes one to two years in the future.
It is not uncommon for someone charged with first degree murder to only have appeared in court twice in the span of two years.
In the meantime, while the case is pending it is important to have regular contact with your attorney, and for you to thoroughly understand all the facts in your case.