(a) The question of the capacity of the defendant to proceed may be raised at any time on motion by the prosecutor, the defendant, the defense counsel, or the court. The motion shall detail the specific conduct that leads the moving party to question the defendant's capacity to proceed.
(b) (1) When the capacity of the defendant to proceed is questioned, the court shall hold a hearing to determine the defendant's capacity to proceed. If an examination is ordered pursuant to subdivision (1a) or (2) of this subsection, the hearing shall be held after the examination. Reasonable notice shall be given to the defendant and prosecutor, and the State and the defendant may introduce evidence.
(1a) In the case of a defendant charged with a misdemeanor or felony, the court may appoint one or more impartial medical experts, including forensic evaluators approved under rules of the Commission for Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services, to examine the defendant and return a written report describing the present state of the defendant's mental health. Reports so prepared are admissible at the hearing. The court may call any expert so appointed to testify at the hearing with or without the request of either party.
(2) At any time in the case of a defendant charged with a felony, the court may order the defendant to a State facility for the mentally ill for observation and treatment for the period, not to exceed 60 days, necessary to determine the defendant's capacity to proceed. If a defendant is ordered to a State facility without first having an examination pursuant to subsection (b)(1a) of this section, the judge shall make a finding that an examination pursuant to this subsection would be more appropriate to determine the defendant's capacity. The sheriff shall return the defendant to the county when notified that the evaluation has been completed. The director of the facility shall direct his report on defendant's condition to the defense attorney and to the clerk of superior court, who shall bring it to the attention of the court. The report is admissible at the hearing.
(3) Repealed by Session Laws 1989, c. 486, s. 1.
(4) A presiding district or superior court judge of this State who orders an examination pursuant to subdivision (1a) or (2) of this subsection shall order the release of relevant confidential information to the examiner, including, but not limited to, the warrant or indictment, arrest records, the law enforcement incident report, the defendant's criminal record, jail records, any prior medical and mental health records of the defendant, and any school records of the defendant after providing the defendant with reasonable notice and an opportunity to be heard and then determining that the information is relevant and necessary to the hearing of the matter before the court and unavailable from any other source. This subdivision shall not be construed to relieve any court of its duty to conduct hearings and make findings required under relevant federal law before ordering the release of any private medical or mental health information or records related to substance abuse or HIV status or treatment. The records may be surrendered to the court for in camera review if surrender is necessary to make the required determinations. The records shall be withheld from public inspection and, except as provided in this subdivision, may be examined only by order of the court.
(b1) The order of the court shall contain findings of fact to support its determination of the defendant's capacity to proceed. The parties may stipulate that the defendant is capable of proceeding but shall not be allowed to stipulate that the defendant lacks capacity to proceed. If the court concludes that the defendant lacks capacity to proceed, proceedings for involuntary civil commitment under Chapter 122C of the General Statutes may be instituted on the basis of the report in either the county where the criminal proceedings are pending or, if the defendant is hospitalized, in the county in which the defendant is hospitalized.
(b2) Reports made to the court pursuant to this section shall be completed and provided to the court as follows:
(1) The report in a case of a defendant charged with a misdemeanor shall be completed and provided to the court no later than 10 days following the completion of the examination for a defendant who was in custody at the time the examination order was entered and no later than 20 days following the completion of the examination for a defendant who was not in custody at the time the examination order was entered.
(2) The report in the case of a defendant charged with a felony shall be completed and provided to the court no later than 30 days following the completion of the examination.
(3) In cases where the defendant challenges the determination made by the court-ordered examiner or the State facility and the court orders an independent psychiatric examination, that examination and report to the court must be completed within 60 days of the entry of the order by the court.
The court may, for good cause shown, extend the time for the provision of the report to the court for up to 30 additional days. The court may renew an extension of time for an additional 30 days upon request of the State or the defendant prior to the expiration of the previous extension. In no case shall the court grant extensions totaling more than 120 days beyond the time periods otherwise provided in this subsection.
(c) The court may make appropriate temporary orders for the confinement or security of the defendant pending the hearing or ruling of the court on the question of the capacity of the defendant to proceed.
(d) Any report made to the court pursuant to this section shall be forwarded to the clerk of superior court in a sealed envelope addressed to the attention of a presiding judge, with a covering statement to the clerk of the fact of the examination of the defendant and any conclusion as to whether the defendant has or lacks capacity to proceed. If the defendant is being held in the custody of the sheriff, the clerk shall send a copy of the covering statement to the sheriff. The sheriff and any persons employed by the sheriff shall maintain the copy of the covering statement as a confidential record. A copy of the full report shall be forwarded to defense counsel, or to the defendant if he is not represented by counsel. If the question of the defendant's capacity to proceed is raised at any time, a copy of the full report must be forwarded to the district attorney, as provided in G.S. 122C-54(b). Until such report becomes a public record, the full report to the court shall be kept under such conditions as are directed by the court, and its contents shall not be revealed except as directed by the court. Any report made to the court pursuant to this section shall not be a public record unless introduced into evidence. (1973, c. 1286, s. 1; 1975, c. 166, ss. 20, 27; 1977, cc. 25, 860; 1979, 2nd Sess., c. 1313; 1985, c. 588; c. 589, s. 9; 1989, c. 486, s. 1; 1991, c. 636, s. 19(b); 1995, c. 299, s. 1; 1995 (Reg. Sess., 1996), c. 742, ss. 13, 14; 2013-18, s. 1.)
Last modified: March 23, 2014