Smith's Criminal Case Compendium

Smith's Criminal Case Compendium

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This compendium includes significant criminal cases by the U.S. Supreme Court & N.C. appellate courts, Nov. 2008 – Present. Selected 4th Circuit cases also are included.

Jessica Smith prepared case summaries Nov. 2008-June 4, 2019; later summaries are prepared by other School staff.

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E.g., 10/21/2021
E.g., 10/21/2021

The defendant was tried and convicted of two counts of first-degree statutory sex offense and two counts of indecent liberties in Union County. The convictions were affirmed on appeal, but the North Carolina Supreme Court found an error with the sentence and remanded for resentencing. On remand, the trial court sentenced the defendant to two consecutive 300-month minimum sentences for the sex offenses and arrested judgment on the indecent liberties convictions. The defendant again appealed, arguing that one of the indictments for each charge were defective. This argument was preserved despite the defendant’s failure to raise the issue earlier, as jurisdictional challenges to the validity of an indictment may be raised at any time.

Two separate indictments were issued charging the defendant with the sex offenses using identical language under one file number and two indictments for indecent liberties similarly used identical charging language under another file number. According to the defendant, the identical language in each set of indictments could have been duplicate originals and not separate offenses. The court rejected this argument. Both sets of indictments properly charged separate offenses in compliance with the requirements for short-form indictments under G.S. 15-144.2(b) (essentials of bill for sex offense) and under G.S. 15A-924 (contents of pleadings). The offenses were also properly joined for trial pursuant G.S. 15A-926 (joinder of offenses and defendants). That statute allows the State to join offenses under a single indictment but does not require it to do so.  In the words of the court:

Defendant asks this Court to adopt a new rule by holding that, when read together, N.C. Gen. Stat. § 15A-924 and N.C. Gen. Stat. § 15A-926(a) bar the State from using multiple short-form indictments charging the same offense with the same file number. We decline to so hold. Helms Slip op. at 8.

The case was therefore affirmed.

A short form indictment charging the defendant with attempted first degree murder was defective. The indictment failed to allege that the defendant acted with “malice aforethought” as required by G.S. 15-144 (short form murder indictment). The court remanded for entry of judgment on the lesser of voluntary manslaughter.

Short-form murder indictment put the defendant on notice that the State might proceed on a theory of felony-murder.

The trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s request to submit the lesser offense of assault on a female when the defendant was charged with rape using the statutory short form indictment. The defense to rape was consent. The defendant argued on appeal that the jury could have found that the rape was consensual but that an assault on a female had occurred. The court rejected that argument reasoning that the acts that the defendant offered in support of assault on a female occurred separately from those constituting rape.

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