If you were wrongfully convicted of a crime in North Carolina, there is something you can do about it. Besides filing an appeal, your case might qualify for review by the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission. The Commission has the legal authority to evaluate and make a determination of innocence based on new information or evidence. The NCIIC recently celebrated its 15th anniversary.
What is the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission?
The North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission is a state agency that is tasked with the investigation of claims of innocence by those convicted of crimes. The agency was established by the General Assembly in 2006 and is the first agency of this kind in the country. The commission has eight members, which include a superior court judge, a prosecuting attorney, a defense attorney, a victim advocate, a member of the public, and two discretionary members. The members are chosen by the Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court and the Chief Judge of the North Carolina Court of Appeals.
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The Commission, along with its supporting staff, reviews and investigate new evidence in cases to provide impartial decisions. Since its start, the NCIIC has received a total of 3,373 cases and has closed 3,302 cases. In 2022 they received 322 claims. The process is completely separate from the appeals process. In order to apply, you must meet specific criteria. If the Commission takes your case, they will investigate the matter and hold hearings to make a decision on the outcome.
How to Apply
Before you can apply, you must meet the requirements that were established by statute. The commission can only review applications that pertain to factual innocence. They cannot review matters of procedural errors, issues that have to do with sentencing, or any other claims that are not directly related to factual innocence. The commission does not represent claimants. Claimants must waive all privileges. If evidence of new crimes is discovered, they turn the information over to law enforcement.
To apply, the applicant must be claiming innocence of the crime for which they were convicted or lesser offenses for which they were found guilty. To be eligible, you must have been convicted of a homicide, robbery, sex offense, or Class A – E felony in a North Carolina state court.
What is the Review Process?
After the Commission receives a valid application, they will review the matter. It is important to note that for review, there must be credible or verifiable evidence of innocence or new evidence in the case that the jury did not have or hear in the original case. If your conviction was based on a plea, the new evidence must not have been available prior to your plea. If there is no new evidence or proof, they will reject the application. During the review, the team will investigate the evidence, conduct hearings, and evaluate the case based on their findings. To date, the Commission has accounted for 15 exonerations.
If you were wrongfully convicted, you may have the ability to appeal your case or submit it to the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission. To learn more about the process, contact our legal team at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, at (704) 370-2828.
The criminal defense attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC make it their mission to zealously defend their clients on a wide range of criminal matters at both the state and federal levels. These matters may include any charge from traffic offenses; DWI/DUI; drug charges (from simple possession to possession with intent to distribute and trafficking); gun permit denials; weapons offenses; and property crimes (larceny, breaking and entering, robbery, fraud, embezzlement, white collar offenses); to sexually related offenses (indecent exposure; sexual assault, crimes against nature, removal from sex offender registry); and violent crimes (domestic violence; assault; manslaughter; homicide, murder). Other legal issues that Arnold & Smith, PLLC criminal clients may face include restraining orders, restraining order and probation violations, expungements; appeals; and immigration issues related to criminal charges. Our criminal defense attorneys are passionate about ensuring that individuals empower themselves by being informed about their constitutional rights and stand at the ready to fight in defense of those facing criminal charges.
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