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., 10/18/2021
E.g., 10/18/2021
State v. James, 368 N.C. 728 (Mar. 18, 2016)

In an appeal from the decision of a divided panel of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 774 S.E.2d 871 (2015), the court per curiam affirmed for the reasons stated in State v. Williams, 368 N.C. 620 (Jan. 29, 2016) (in a case where the defendant, a sex offender, was charged with violating G.S. 14-208.11 by failing to provide timely written notice of a change of address, the court held that the indictment was not defective; distinguishing State v. Abshire, 363 N.C. 322 (2009), the court rejected the defendant’s argument that the indictment was defective because it alleged that he failed to register his change of address with the sheriff’s office within three days, rather than within three business days).

State v. Williams, 368 N.C. 620 (Jan. 29, 2016)

In a case where the defendant, a sex offender, was charged with violating G.S. 14-208.11 by failing to provide timely written notice of a change of address, the court held that the indictment was not defective. Distinguishing State v. Abshire, 363 N.C. 322 (2009), the court rejected the defendant’s argument that the indictment was defective because it alleged that he failed to register his change of address with the sheriff’s office within three days, rather than within three business days. 

Indictments charging the defendant with failing register under G.S. 14-208.11(a)(2) and (a)(7) were not fatally defective where the indictments substantially tracked the language of the statute.

In a failure to register as a sex offender case, the indictment was not defective on grounds that did not allege that the defendant failed to provide “written notice” of his address change “within three business days.” Citing prior case law, the court noted that it has already rejected arguments. The court followed this case law, refusing “to subject the indictment to hyper technical scrutiny.” It further noted that the defendant did not establish that this pleading issue prejudiced his trial preparation. Finally, it noted that the better practice would be for the prosecution to allege that the defendant failed to report his change in address “in writing” and “within three business days.” 

An indictment charging failing to notify the sheriff of a change in address was not defective. The indictment alleged, in relevant part, that the defendant “fail[ed] to register as a sex offender by failing to notify the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office of his change of address.” The defendant argued that the indictment was defective because it failed to allege that he was required to provide “written notice” of a change of address. The court held: “we consider the manner of notice, in person or in writing, to be an evidentiary matter necessary to be proven at trial, but not required to be alleged in the indictment.”

(1) In a failing to register case the indictment was not defective. The indictment alleged that the defendant failed to provide 10 days of written notice of his change of address to “the last registering sheriff by failing to report his change of address to the Wilkes County Sheriff’s Office.” The defendant allegedly moved from Burke to Wilkes County. The court rejected the defendant’s argument that the indictment was fatally defective for not alleging that he failed to provide “in-person” notice. It reasoned that the defendant was not prosecuted for failing to make an “in person” notification, but rather for failing to give 10 days of written notice, which by itself is a violation of the statute. The court also rejected the defendant’s argument that an error in the indictment indicating that the Wilkes County Sheriff’s Office was the “the last registering sheriff” (in fact the last registering sheriff was the Burke County sheriff), invalidated the indictment. (2) The trial court did not err by allowing the State to amend the indictment and expand the dates of offense from 7 November 2012 to June to November 2012. It reasoned that the amendment did not substantially alter the charge “because the specific date that defendant moved to Wilkes County was not an essential element of the crime.”

An indictment charging the defendant with violating G.S. 14-208.18(a) (prohibiting registered sex offenders from being “[w]ithin 300 feet of any location intended primarily for the use, care, or supervision of minors when the place is located on premises that are not intended primarily for the use, care, or supervision of minors”) was not defective. The charges arose out of the defendant’s presence at a Wilkesboro public park, specifically, sitting on a bench within the premises of the park and in close proximity to the park’s batting cage and ball field. The indictment alleged, in relevant part, that the defendant was “within 300 feet of a location intended primarily for the use, care, or supervision of minors, to wit: a batting cage and ball field of Cub Creek Park located in Wilkesboro, North Carolina.” The court rejected the defendant’s argument that the indictment was defective because it failed to allege that the batting cages and ball field were located on a premise not intended primarily for the use, care, or supervision of minors.

An indictment charging failing to notify the sheriff’s office of change of address by a registered sex offender under G.S. 14-208.9 was defective where it failed to allege that the defendant was a person required to register. 

Following State v. Harris, 219 N.C. App. 590 (Apr. 3, 2012) (an indictment charging the defendant with being a sex offender unlawfully on the premises of a place intended primarily for the use, care, or supervision of minors in violation of G.S. 14-208.18 was defective because it failed to allege that he had been convicted of an offense enumerated in G.S. Ch. 14 Article 7A or an offense involving a victim who was under 16 years of age at the time of the offense), the court held that the indictment at issue was defective.

An indictment charging the defendant with being a sex offender unlawfully on the premises of a place intended primarily for the use, care, or supervision of minors in violation of G.S. 14-208.18 was defective. According to the court the “essential elements” of the charged offense are that the defendant (1) knowingly is on the premises of any place intended primarily for the use, care, or supervision of minors (2) at a time when he or she was required by North Carolina law to register as a sex offender based upon a conviction for an offense enumerated in G.S. Ch. 14 Article 7A or an offense involving a victim who was under the age of 16. The court rejected the defendant’s argument that the indictment, which alleged that the defendant “did unlawfully, willfully and feloniously on the premises of Winget Park Elementary School,” was defective because it omitted any affirmative assertion that he actually went on the school’s premises. The court reasoned that although the indictment contained a grammatical error, it clearly charged the defendant with unlawfully being on the premises of the school. Next, the court rejected the defendant’s argument that the indictment was defective because it failed to allege that he knowingly went on the school’s premises. The court reasoned that the indictment’s allegation that the defendant acted “willfully” sufficed to allege the requisite “knowing” conduct. However, the court found merit in the defendant’s argument that the indictment was defective because it failed to allege that he had been convicted of an offense enumerated in G.S. Ch. 14 Article 7A or an offense involving a victim who was under 16 years of age at the time of the offense.

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