North Carolina crime lab is causing delays in DWI, other criminal cases
Many people suspected of alleged crimes across North Carolina have had the suspicion hanging over their heads for, in some cases, more than a year to delays in the North Carolina State Crime Laboratory. Some cases involving driving while impaired allegations are included in the lengthy delays in cases where the crime lab is asked to perform toxicology testing on a blood sample.
WNCT-TV News in Greenville, North Carolina, reports that the crime lab has less staff than in previous years to process evidence, leading to long delays for defendants in their criminal cases. Directors who run the crime lab also say that an increase in evidence requests has added to delays in processing.
In some areas of North Carolina, prosecutors have had difficulty in getting former analysts from the crime lab into court to testify in North Carolina DWI cases, forcing the prosecutor to dismiss the DWI case, according to WNCT. In many cases, prosecutors seek a continuance, and delay the criminal proceedings for a longer period of time.
A defendant accused of a crime has the right to confront the witnesses against her or him. That constitutional right was addressed by the United States Supreme Court in 2009. The individual crime lab analyst who performs toxicology tests cannot be replaced by a different analyst who may understand toxicology testing to support a crime lab test analysis, if a criminal defendant asserts her or his right to confront the witnesses against the defendant.
Sources say that a laboratory in Asheville could possibly handle blood testing in DWI cases. WRAL-TV reports that the added lab for blood testing could reduce some backlog in processing evidence in criminal cases. The station also says that a district attorney says that Wake County is planning to open its own crime lab next month.
- 9 on Your Side WNCT-TV, “Crime lab cutbacks lead to long NC court wait,” Aug. 20, 2012
- WRAL-TV, “NC crime lab has less staff, money but more work,” updated Aug. 20, 2012