AN ACT TO AMEND THE CAPITAL TRIAL, SENTENCING, AND POSTCONVICTION PROCEDURES FOR A PERSON WITH A SEVERE MENTAL DISABILITY AND TO PROVIDE THAT INSANITY IS NOT AVAILABLE AS A DEFENSE TO A CRIMINAL ACTION IF PRIOR ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE OR BOTH ARE THE SOLE CAUSE OF THE PSYCHOSIS OR IF VOLUNTARY INTOXICATION, A VOLUNTARY DRUGGED CONDITION, OR BOTH COMBINED ARE THE SOLE SUPPORT FOR THE DEFENSE.
Contains whereas clauses.
Enacts new GS 15A-2007 (Defendant with severe mental disability; death sentence prohibited). Defines severe mental disability and places the burden on the defendant of proving, by clear and convincing evidence, that a severe mental disability predates the alleged offense. Prohibits the death penalty for defendants with severe mental disability at the time of the commission of a criminal offense. Specifies procedure for a court's pre-trial determination of a severe mental disability. Provides that a person found to have a severe mental disability at the time of the commission of the criminal offense waives the defense of not guilty by reason of insanity. Specifies procedure for the introduction of evidence to a sentencing jury regarding a severe mental disability, when a court's pre-trial hearing does not find the existence of a severe mental disability. Places the burden on the defendant of proving the severe mental disability to the jury by a preponderance of the evidence. Authorizes a jury to consider evidence of disability when determining mitigating factors, even if the jury determines that the defendant did not have a severe mental disability. Provides that defendants with severe mental disability may be given any other authorized sentence.
Makes conforming changes to GS 15A-2000(b).
The above provisions are effective October 1, 2021.
Enacts new GS 15A-2008. Requires the following in cases where the defendant has been convicted of first degree murder, sentenced to death, and is in custody awaiting imposition of the death penalty: (1) Allows a defendant to seek appropriate relief from the death sentence upon the ground that the defendant submits credible and verifiable evidence of a prior severe mental disability at the time of the commission of the capital crime. (2) Requires a motion seeking appropriate relief from a death sentence on the ground that the defendant had a severe mental disability at the time of the commission of the capital crime to be filed on or before January 31, 2022, if the defendant's conviction and sentence of death were entered before, or within 150 days of the imposition of a sentence of death if the defendant's trial was in progress on October 1, 2021. Specifies that a trial is considered to be in progress if the jury selection has begun. (3) Requires the motion seeking relief from a death sentence upon the ground that the defendant had a severe mental disability to comply with the provisions of GS 15A-1420 (Motion for appropriate relief; procedure). Provides that upon motion of the defendant, supported by appropriate affidavits, the court must order a hearing to determine if the defendant had a severe mental disability at the time of the commission of the offense; if it is determined that the defendant had a severe mental disability at the time of the commission, the defendant must be sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. Effective October 1, 2021, and expires October 1, 2022.
Enacts new GS 15A-960 providing that insanity is not available as a defense in either of these circumstances: (1) prior alcohol use, prior drug use, or both are the sole cause of the psychosis or (2) voluntary intoxication, a voluntary drugged condition, or both combined are the sole support for the defense. Effective October 1, 2021
Appropriates $100,000 in recurring funds for 2021-22 from the General Fund to the Administrative Office of the Courts to be allocated to the Conference of District Attorneys to hire an attorney to assist statewide with the implementation of the provisions of this act. Effective July 1, 2021.
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