7A-272. Jurisdiction of district court; concurrent jurisdiction in guilty or no contest pleas for certain felony offenses; appellate and appropriate relief procedures applicable.

(a) Except as provided in this Article, the district court has exclusive, original jurisdiction for the trial of criminal actions, including municipal ordinance violations, below the grade of felony, and the same are hereby declared to be petty misdemeanors.

(b) The district court has jurisdiction to conduct preliminary examinations and to bind the accused over for trial upon waiver of preliminary examination or upon a finding of probable cause, making appropriate orders as to bail or commitment.

(c) With the consent of the presiding district court judge, the prosecutor, and the defendant, the district court has jurisdiction to accept a defendant's plea of guilty or no contest to a Class H or I felony if:

(1) The defendant is charged with a felony in an information filed pursuant to G.S. 15A-644.1, the felony is pending in district court, and the defendant has not been indicted for the offense; or

(2) The defendant has been indicted for a criminal offense but the defendant's case is transferred from superior court to district court pursuant to G.S. 15A-1029.1.

(d) Provisions in Chapter 15A of the General Statutes apply to a plea authorized under subsection (c) of this section as if the plea had been entered in superior court, so that a district court judge is authorized to act in these matters in the same manner as a superior court judge would be authorized to act if the plea had been entered in superior court, and appeals that are authorized in these matters are to the appellate division.

(e) With the consent of the chief district court judge and the senior resident superior court judge, the district court has jurisdiction to preside over the supervision of a probation judgment entered in superior court in which the defendant is required to participate in a drug treatment court program pursuant to G.S. 15A-1343(b1)(2b) or a therapeutic court as defined in subsection (f) of this section, or is participating in the drug treatment court pursuant to a deferred prosecution agreement under G.S. 15A-1341(a2) or the terms of a conditional discharge under G.S. 15A-1341(a5). The district court may modify or extend the probation judgment, but jurisdiction to revoke probation supervised under this subsection is as provided in G.S. 7A-271(f).

(f) As used in subsection (e) of this section, the term "therapeutic court" refers to a court, other than drug treatment court established pursuant to Article 62 of Chapter 7A of the General Statutes, in which a criminal defendant, either as a condition of probation or pursuant to a deferred prosecution agreement or the terms of a conditional discharge under G.S. 15A-1341, is ordered to participate in specified activities designed to address underlying problems of substance abuse and mental illness that contribute to the person's criminal activity. The ordered activities shall, at a minimum, require the person to participate in treatment and attend regular court sessions of the therapeutic court over an extended period of time. The senior resident superior court judge and the chief district court judge shall agree in writing that the therapeutic court is being established and shall file the written agreement with the Administrative Office of the Courts before jurisdiction established by subsection (e) of this section may be exercised by the district court. (1965, c. 310, s. 1; 1995 (Reg. Sess., 1996), c. 725, ss. 1, 2; 2009-452, s. 2; 2009-516, s. 8(a), (b); 2010-96, s. 26(b); 2010-97, s. 13; 2014-119, s. 2(b).)