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16,000+ charges, including DWIs, ‘erroneously dismissed’ in Mecklenburg County after computer error, DA says



CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — More than 16,000 charges in Mecklenburg County, including around 300 for DWI, were “erroneously dismissed” after a computer error, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

The DA’s Office said it began receiving reports on September 26 from some court system stakeholders of case outcomes that were inconsistent with the direction prosecutors had provided to the N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC).

Four days later, prosecutors said they learned that more than 16,000 charges had been dismissed due to a computer error at the AOC.

Of the charges dismissed, officials said around 300 were DWI charges, while some others included dangerously high speeds.

The DA’s Office said it “clearly did not approve” those charges to be dismissed.

Officials said the District Attorney’s Office had been working with the AOC to address massive case backlogs in Mecklenburg County caused by court closures during the pandemic.

Last month, the process began to dismiss a number of low-level priority traffic and low-level misdemeanor cases so prosecutors could focus resources on more serious traffic and misdemeanor charges.

The DA’s Office said that without the actions taken with AOC to address the backlog, “it would take years to resolve currently pending cases.”

Prosecutors said they are working with the state to resolve the issue. District Attorney Spencer Merriweather has reportedly notified the AOC Directors and his staff that he plans to reinstate as many of the dismissed charges as plausible.

“Clerical and computer errors in a system with the case volume that exists in a county of our size do occur, and when they do, reinstatement of affected cases occurs as a matter of course,” said the DA’s Office in a statement.

Prosecutors said they do not expect a different outcome in the mistakenly dismissed charges.

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