(a) Process as Pleadings. - The citation, criminal summons, warrant for arrest, or magistrate's order serves as the pleading of the State for a misdemeanor prosecuted in the district court, unless the prosecutor files a statement of charges, or there is objection to trial on a citation. When a statement of charges is filed it supersedes all previous pleadings of the State and constitutes the pleading of the State.
(b) Statement of Charges.
(1) A statement of charges is a criminal pleading which charges a misdemeanor. It must be signed by the prosecutor who files it.
(2) Upon appropriate motion, a defendant is entitled to a period of at least three working days for the preparation of his defense after a statement of charges is filed, or the time the defendant is first notified of the statement of charges, whichever is later, unless the judge finds that the statement of charges makes no material change in the pleadings and that no additional time is necessary.
(3) If the judge rules that the pleadings charging a misdemeanor are insufficient and a prosecutor is permitted to file a statement of charges pursuant to subsection (e), the order of the judge must allow the prosecutor three working days, unless the judge determines that a longer period is justified, in which to file the statement of charges, and must provide that the charges will be dismissed if the statement of charges is not filed within the period allowed.
(c) Objection to Trial on Citation. - A defendant charged in a citation with a criminal offense may by appropriate motion require that the offense be charged in a new pleading. The prosecutor must then file a statement of charges unless it appears that a criminal summons or a warrant for arrest should be secured in order to insure the attendance of the defendant, and in addition serve as the new pleading.
(d) Statement of Charges upon Determination of Prosecutor. -The prosecutor may file a statement of charges upon his own determination at any time prior to arraignment in the district court. It may charge the same offenses as the citation, criminal summons, warrant for arrest, or magistrate's order or additional or different offenses.
(e) Objection to Sufficiency of Criminal Summons; Warrant for Arrest or Magistrate's Order as Pleading. - If the defendant by appropriate motion objects to the sufficiency of a criminal summons, warrant for arrest, or magistrate's order as a pleading, at the time of or after arraignment in the district court or upon trial de novo in the superior court, and the judge rules that the pleading is insufficient, the prosecutor may file a statement of charges, but a statement of charges filed pursuant to this authorization may not change the nature of the offense.
(f) Amendment of Pleadings prior to or after Final Judgment. - A statement of charges, criminal summons, warrant for arrest, citation, or magistrate's order may be amended at any time prior to or after final judgment when the amendment does not change the nature of the offense charged.
(g) Pleadings When Misdemeanor Prosecution Initiated in Superior Court. - When the prosecution of a misdemeanor is initiated in the superior court as permitted by G.S. 7A-271, the prosecution must be upon information or indictment.
(h) Allegations in Superior Court of Prior Convictions. - When charges in the district court involve allegations of prior convictions and there is an appeal to the superior court for trial de novo, a statement of charges must be filed in the superior court to charge the offense in the manner provided in G.S. 15A-928. (1973, c. 1286, s. 1; 1975, c. 166, s. 27; 1979, c. 770; 1985, c. 689, s. 6.)