Bill Summary for H 672 (2021-2022)

Summary date: 

Apr 22 2021

Bill Information:

View NCGA Bill Details2021
House Bill 672 (Public) Filed Thursday, April 22, 2021
AN ACT TO DIRECT THE JOINT LEGISLATIVE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE ON JUSTICE AND PUBLIC SAFETY TO STUDY THE PRESERVATION OF BIOLOGICAL EVIDENCE.
Intro. by Richardson, Faircloth.

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Bill summary

Revises GS 15A-268, regarding the preservation of biological evidence in a criminal proceeding. No longer requires a presiding judge to inquire as to the identity of the collecting agency of physical evidence offered or admitted into evidence in a criminal proceeding, whether the evidence is reasonably likely to contain biological evidence relevant to establishing the identity of the perpetrator, and designating the evidence as biological and ordering the preservation of such evidence pursuant to the statute's requirements. Instead requires the clerk of superior court to take custody of and preserve physical evidence collected by law enforcement as part of an investigation that is offered or admitted into evidence in a criminal proceeding (previously required once the court designated evidence as biological pursuant the language repealed by the act). Requires the return of such evidence to the collecting agency in a manner that ensures the chain of custody is maintained and documented upon conclusion of the defendant's direct appeal to the State courts (was upon the conclusion of the clerk's role as custodian as provided in applicable rules of practice). No longer provides for a distinct period of mandated preservation of biological evidence for cases where a person convicted entered and was convicted on a plea of guilty for any homicide, sex offense, assault, kidnapping, burglary, robbery, arson or burning, for which a Class B1-E felony punishment is imposed, thereby making the general rule, which requires preservation of the evidence during the period of incarceration and mandatory supervised release, applicable (previously provided a three year period for these instances). Applies to evidence in criminal proceedings prior to, on, or after October 1, 2021.

Amends GS 15A-269 to no longer include in the required determinations of a court to grant a motion for DNA testing postconviction a determination that if the DNA testing being requested had been conducted on the evidence there exists a reasonable probability that the verdict would have been more favorable to the defendant. 

Amends GS 15A-270.1 to provide for appeals from determinations made under Article 13, DNA Database and Databank, rather than, more specifically, appeals from an order denying the defendant's motion for DNA testing under Article 13.

Amends GS 15A-1415(f) to specifically require a defendant's prior trial or appellate counsel to make available to the defendant's counsel in proceedings regarding requests for postconviction DNA testing pursuant to GS 15A-269, as amended, their complete files relating to the case of the defendant. 

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