From 2014 through 2018 the Charlotte Observer found that Mecklenburg County prosecutors dismissed 68 percent of weapons charges, a higher rate than any other urban county in North Carolina.

Mecklenburg’s high dismissal rate means that defendants who commit crimes there have a greater chance of avoiding punishment than in other North Carolina counties. Suspects who get away with crimes often move on to worse offenses, including murder, experts say. It’s happening as Charlotte homicides are on pace to reach near-record levels this year.

Former prosecutors told the Observer that they had little choice but to plea bargain or dismiss most charges.