DWI fatality and homicide cases, those involving murder, manslaughter, and felony death by vehicle charges in Mecklenburg County are handled by a special team of prosecutors.
Defense attorneys and prosecutors alike refer to it as the “Homicide Team.”
The lawyers in Charlotte who comprise the DA Homicide Team are some of the most seasoned courtroom attorneys I know. If you have a matter with the Homicide Team, it’s a serious criminal charge and one that deserves careful consideration by a defense attorney with substantial courtroom experience- Bill Powers
Given how busy our court system has become, Charlotte dedicates certain days/dates in the month for the disposition of charges.
As such, we have days in superior court that focus on solely drug charges and murder charges and property offenses and crimes against persons.
With that comes administrative courtroom settings when a judge in superior court (during a scheduled “session of court”) will generally hear one type of felony charge or related criminal charges, one after another.
That is a bit different than other judicial districts, where a wide range of different types of felony charges in superior court may be heard.
Given the size of Charlotte and the number of cases in Mecklenburg County, it makes sense to schedule court based on the type of criminal charges and prosecutorial teams.
It’s more efficient; the prosecutors work together for the smooth disposition of matters and are therefore all at least generally aware of the fact-patterns of the allegations.
The day murder charges in Charlotte are handled, especially those involving a guilty plea, are particularly harrowing and heartbreaking.
On those days, sitting at the Defendant’s table in Charlotte Superior Court is at best difficult, even for an experienced criminal defense lawyer.
Guilty Pleas in Homicide Team Court
People start lining up outside Courtroom 5350 about an hour before the Sherriff’s Department deputies unlock the courtroom doors.
It’s an anxious time, where both those accused of crimes and those affected by criminal charges wait together in relatively close proximity.
Courtroom personnel shuffle back-and-forth in between courtrooms, getting ready for the upcoming session of the court.
That may include victim coordinators, prosecutors (Assistant District Attorney’s or “DA’s), defense attorneys, probation officers, clerks, and law enforcement officers.
Local media in Charlotte also regularly attend court when homicide charges are called for disposition.
It’s a good use of their time.
Many high-profile criminal charges are handled on the same day within a short period of time.
Murder charges and homicides involving “drunk driving” and a fatality (felony death by vehicle, Second Degree Murder, manslaughter, etc.) tend to attract the attention of the media – Bill Powers, DWI Defense Lawyer
While discretionary to the presiding judge, it is not unusual to see a TV camera or photographer from the Charlotte Observer in the courtroom.
The day the guilty plea is handled in court, family members of both the accused (the Defendant) and family/friends of the decedent often pack the courtroom.
That’s true also for bond hearings, bond review hearings, and other administrative proceedings that involve some of the most serious types of felony charges in Mecklenburg County.
Cases in Charlotte are generally assigned a specific “plea slot” time for the entry of a guilty plea.
Homicide Team court settings may also involve formal arraignment on the charges and a plea of “not guilty” in Superior Court.
Arraignment and Entry of Plea
Superior Court matters are heard “on the record.” That means there is an official court reporter present or the courtroom proceedings are recorded.
Once a matter is called before the Court, the parties enter the “well of the Bar,” standing before the judge at their respectively assigned tables.
The State (the prosecutor) will ordinarily announce the formal name of the matter by saying something like, “Your Honor, the State now calls the ‘State of North Carolina vs. (the Defendant’s name), number XX on the Court’s calendar.'”
Thereafter, the assistant district attorney asks the defense lawyer (assuming the Defendant has legal representation), “Mr. Powers, how does your client plead to count one of the indictment, that being (the charge or charges are then read)?”
If the accused wishes the plead “not guilty,” counsel responds something to the effect, “Your Honor, my client has authorized me to enter a plea of not guilty to the charges.”
Once that is done, the Court may make some further inquiry into the matter to make certain the accused understands the consequences of rejecting a plea.
The Judge may also confirm the Defendant has received a copy of his or her discovery (Motion for Discovery) and that by entering a plea of not guilty at the arraignment means the matter will be set for trial.
Bill Powers: Charlotte Criminal Defense Attorney
If you are facing a serious felony or misdemeanor charge in Charlotte, North Carolina, we recommend you consult with an experienced defense lawyer without delay.
The lawyers at our law firm provide a free consultation for all criminal matters.
We assist people in the Charlotte-metro region, including Rowan County (Salisbury NC), Iredell County (Mooresville and Statesville NC), Gaston County (Gastonia), and Union County (Monroe NC).
Bill Powers also travels extensively, helping people with felony DWI charges that involve allegations of murder, manslaughter, and felony death by vehicle allegations.
We are licensed to practice law throughout all of North Carolina. I love traveling the state, helping people when we can – Bill Powers, NC Criminal Defense Attorney
To schedule a confidential consultation with Bill Powers, call NOW: 704-342-4357
You may also reach Bill Powers directly at: Bill@CarolinaAttorneys.com
Bill Powers is available for media inquiries, continuing legal education, public speaking events, and consultation on alcohol-related offenses/charges.
Related Legal Issues:
- Charlotte Observer – DWI Charges in Charlotte
- When is Drunk Driving a Felony – DWI fatality – homicide
- Homicide – What to Do When You or a Loved one is Facing Murder or Manslaughter Charges – Part 1
- Homicide – What to Do When You or a Loved one is Facing Murder or Manslaughter Charges – Part 2
- North Carolina Criminal Law 14-17: Second Degree Murder by Vehicle Impaired Driving – DWI FATALITY